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

Early postpartum opioids linked with persistent usage

December 14, 2018
Vanderbilt researchers have published findings indicating that regardless of whether a woman delivers a child by cesarean section or by vaginal birth, if they fill prescriptions for opioid pain medications early in the postpartum ...

Hysterectomy linked to memory deficit in an animal model

December 6, 2018
By age 60, one in three American women have had a hysterectomy. Though hysterectomy is a prevalent and routine surgery, the removal of the uterus before natural menopause might actually be problematic for cognitive processes ...

Obesity intervention needed before pregnancy

December 6, 2018
New research from the University of Adelaide's Robinson Research Institute supports the need for dietary and lifestyle interventions before overweight and obese women become pregnant.

First baby born via uterus transplanted from dead donor

December 5, 2018
In a medical first, a mother who received a uterus transplant from a dead donor gave birth to a healthy baby, researchers reported Wednesday.

Researchers find evidence of prenatal environment tuning genomic imprinting

December 5, 2018
A team of researchers from the U.S., Australia and Denmark has found evidence of the prenatal environment tuning genomic imprinting. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the group describes ...

RSV study reveals age when infants are most vulnerable to asthma

December 5, 2018
New research suggests a maternal vaccination against RSV should be augmented with active immunisation in a child's first two years to reduce the onset of asthma.


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.