What is fertility preservation?
Options for people who produce sperm
Download the Oncology Sperm Banking referral form to give to your family physician (195 KB pdf)
Tissue & Sperm Bank
Sperm banking is the process of freezing and storing sperm for later use with Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART). The first baby born using frozen sperm and artificial insemination was in 1953.
Why Bank Sperm or testicular tissue?
There are many reasons to bank sperm or testicular tissue. One of the most important reasons is to preserve reproductive capacity in people who will be undergoing treatment that will impair fertility. Surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and cancer drugs may diminish sperm quality and quantity, or permanently prevent sperm formation or ejaculation.
It is recommended that before sperm banking, you do not ejaculate or have intercourse for 2 – 3 days prior to collecting the sperm specimen, unless otherwise instructed by your physician. The sample must be collected by masturbation in a sterile container. No gels, cream, saliva or lubricants can be used during the sperm collection, as they may harm sperm motility (the ability of the sperm to move properly). A private collection room is provided in our clinic. When the lab receives your sample, the sperm cells are mixed with a substance called a cryoprotectant that reduces cellular injury, and the sample is then frozen. Once frozen at an extremely low temperature, the sperm are stored in liquid nitrogen at -196° C. Sperm frozen in this manner can be stored indefinitely.
When you have decided that it is time to start your family using your banked sperm, the frozen sperm cells will be thawed and used, through treatments such as intrauterine insemination (IUI) and in-vitro fertilization (IVF). Despite sophisticated technology, sperm banking is not perfect. On average, approximately 90% of the viable sperm survive the freezing and thawing process. Therefore, the success rates of pregnancy cannot be guaranteed. However, techniques such as intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), may allow fertilization to occur even with compromised sperm samples. Successful pregnancy has been achieved with sperm stored for more than 10 years.
Options for people who have ovaries
Download the Mount Sinai Fertility Referral Form to give to your family physician (37 KB pdf )
Ovarian Stimulation with In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) and Cryopreservation (Freezing)
Options for preserving fertility diminish rapidly with many treatment protocols. Thus, decisions about fertility preservation must be made relatively quickly following diagnosis of an illness.
Ovarian stimulation with or without in-vitro fertilization (IVF) is a time-sensitive procedure. Fertility treatment requires at least 2 weeks and involves medication to stimulate the ovaries to produce multiple follicles. Follicles are sacs of fluid that contain an egg. Stimulation medication is usually taken for 10-12 days, and is then followed by the egg retrieval (harvesting) procedure.
For people with breast cancer, adding a medication called letrozole to the stimulation medication may help block estrogen from being able to stimulate breast cancer cells. So far, studies do not show that ovarian stimulation treatment or pregnancy after breast cancer causes cancer recurrence.
Once eggs are retrieved, the mature eggs are frozen and can be stored indefinitely.
There are many reasons to cryopreserve embryos or oocytes. Surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and cancer drugs may diminish ovarian function or cause reproductive aging and, in some cases, permanent infertility. One of the most important reasons to cryopreserve is to preserve reproductive capacity in people who may be at risk of infertility due to certain treatments.
When you have decided that it is time to start your family using your frozen oocytes, one of our physicians will meet with you to discuss your options and determine a plan. Although subsequent fertility cannot be guaranteed, many people who have undergone fertility-compromising treatments are able to achieve a successful pregnancy through the use of assisted reproductive technologies (ART).