Ovarian tissue and egg freezing should be made widely available to prevent

October 2, 2014, Lancet

Ovarian tissue and egg freezing to preserve fertility should no longer be reserved for cancer patients, and healthy women should also be offered these options to safeguard their future chances of conceiving a child, say world renowned fertility experts writing in a new Series on fertility preservation, published in The Lancet.

Over the past 10 years, researchers have restored the fertility of female cancer patients who would otherwise have been left infertile after treatment, having been offered oocyte cryopreservation. The technique enables women to freeze their eggs and use them at a later time to conceive a child. Several babies have been born to cancer patients using this technique, which is no longer classed as experimental [1].

However, the growing trend in developed countries to delay having children until later in life has resulted in being increasingly used by healthy women as insurance against age-related infertility. "So far nearly 2000 babies have been born from eggs frozen, without an increase in the incidence of any birth defects", says author Professor Dominic Stoop, Director of the Centre for Reproductive Medicine at UZ Brussels in Belgium.

Another fertility restoring approach for young women with cancer is the freezing and transplantation of ovarian tissue. In 2004, a Belgian woman became the first to give birth to a healthy baby, 7 years after banking her frozen ovarian tissue before starting chemotherapy. This technique has gone on to result in the birth of 37 additional healthy babies to cancer patients.

"The main advantage of ovarian tissue transplant over egg freezing is the large number of eggs that can be frozen in one procedure, without the need to delay cancer treatment because of multiple ovarian stimulation cycles needed to retrieve eggs", explains Professor Stoop.

"Replacement of the ovarian tissue requires surgery and might seem more onerous than egg retrieval, but it is a straightforward and uneventful procedure", adds co-author Dr Sherman Silber from St Luke's Hospital in St Louis, USA, who developed many of the infertility treatments in use today. "Hormonal function is restored in every case and women are able to attempt natural conception without the need for in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) or other treatment".

Using cryopreservation techniques in this way is controversial. Both the American Society for Reproductive Medicine and the European Society for Reproductive Medicine have called for more evidence on safety, cost-effectiveness, and psychological factors that might arise. However, the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology recommends that egg freezing should be available both for cancer patients and for the prevention of age-related infertility.

According to the authors, the success of technology for makes it viable that the procedure would work in other women who wish to postpone having children for other reasons, whilst reducing the need for third party involvement (eg, egg donors) in artificial reproductive techniques. Moreover, adds co-author Dr Ana Cobo, Head of the Cryobiology Unit at IVI Valencia in Spain, "Both these techniques could also help women to overcome future infertility and may counter the increasing need for egg donation in developed countries".

This paper is part of a Series on fertility preservation. The other two papers in the Series cover the latest developments in men [paper 1] and [paper 2] with cancer, and discuss how these methods could change the reproductive options for people with cancer.

Explore further: Researchers shed new light on egg freezing success rates

More information: [1] In 2013, the practice committees of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) and of the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology removed its classification as an experimental procedure.

Paper 1: www.thelancet.com/journals/lan … (14)60495-5/abstract
Paper 2: www.thelancet.com/journals/lan … (14)60834-5/abstract
Comment: www.thelancet.com/journals/lan … (14)61749-9/abstract

Related Stories

Researchers shed new light on egg freezing success rates

May 29, 2013
Researchers from New York Medical College and the University of California Davis have for the first time codified age-specific probabilities of live birth after in vitro fertilization (IVF) with frozen eggs. A team of researchers ...

Freeze-storage egg banking for egg donation treatment

July 1, 2014
The rapid freezing technique of vitrification is set to revolutionise egg donation as a fertility treatment by enabling freeze-storage egg-banking. The cryopreservation of eggs was one of IVF's continuing challenges until ...

Guidelines can predict early menopause in child cancer survivors

August 15, 2014
Girls with cancer who are most likely to become infertile after treatment can be identified using guidelines developed almost 20 years ago, new research shows.

New method increases viability of frozen embryos, expands reproductive options

September 18, 2012
(Medical Xpress)—For some women facing fertility issues, a faster way of freezing and storing eggs is expanding their reproductive options.

Egg banking for social reasons

July 9, 2013
Egg freezing as insurance against age-related infertility is a growing trend in many countries. Women who bank oocytes for use at some time in the future hope to buy a little time in their search for a suitable partner.

Fertility preservation with cryopreservation of ovarian tissue: from experimental to mainstream

July 4, 2012
Although the first successful preservation of fertility from the freezing, thawing and grafting of ovarian tissue was reported eight years ago,(1) the technique has remained experimental and confined to a few specialist centres. ...

Recommended for you

Undiagnosed STIs can increase negative PMS symptoms

September 17, 2018
Women that have undiagnosed sexually transmitted infections may be at greater risk of experiencing negative premenstrual symptoms (PMS), according to new Oxford University research.

High dose folic acid does not prevent pre-eclampsia in high risk women

September 13, 2018
Taking high dose folic acid supplements in later pregnancy (beyond the first trimester) does not prevent pre-eclampsia in women at high risk for this condition, finds a randomised controlled trial published by The BMJ today.

Study finds air purifiers may benefit fetal growth

September 12, 2018
A new study led by SFU health sciences researchers Prabjit Barn and Ryan Allen reveals fetal growth may improve if pregnant women use portable air purifiers inside their homes.

Delayed childbearing is a growing source of multiple births, study shows

September 12, 2018
Starting in the 1980s, the number of multiple births—twins, triplets, quadruplets and quintuplets—steadily increased from about 20 sets per 1,000 live births to almost 35 sets per 1,000 live births in the 2010s.

Transforming pregnancy research with a smartphone app

September 5, 2018
For years, pregnant women have been underrepresented in biomedical research. Current treatments, interventions and guidelines do a poor job of taking into consideration the diverse characteristics of all pregnant women.

For women undergoing IVF, is fresh or frozen embryo transfer best?

August 21, 2018
The world's first baby born via in-vitro fertilization turned 40 years old this summer. Still, after four decades, IVF is a relatively new field with ongoing debate on how to get the best results for families who have placed ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.