Articles for young women / 17 Mar, 2020

What is ovarian tissue preservation?

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Ovarian tissue preservation defined

Ovarian tissue preservation is a more recent fertility approach and only available through select clinics. This procedure involves the removal of ovarian tissue containing an ample reserve of immature eggs, which is then frozen. Any patient undergoing cancer treatment can later have the tissue returned to the body, enabling the eggs to develop.

The benefit with this procedure is that cancer patients may use this before chemotherapy. Once the ovarian tissue is returned to the body, it has the potential to restore natural hormone production and cycles. This may increase chances of conceiving naturally.

Suitability

Ovarian tissue preservation is suited to females who:1

  • Seek to preserve their fertility
  • Cannot use fertility drugs
  • Cannot undergo embryo or egg freezing due to time constraints
  • Are yet to reach puberty

Additional care is taken when considering the suitability of women with blood cancers, e.g. leukaemia. This is due to an increased chance of cancer cells being placed back into the body with the frozen ovarian tissue.

What does it involve?

  • Key hole surgery under a general anaesthesia.
  • The ovary is harvested and removed with the cortex (outer layer of the ovary) containing immature eggs, which is then cryopreserved for up to 55 years.1

The probability of having a baby after ovarian tissue preservation?

Currently, the statistics indicate a 30% chance of having a live birth after ovarian preservation, mainly because this is a more recent procedure available in fertility preservation that is still experimental.

Will this option affect the health of the baby?

No, the data suggests that the health of a baby born using frozen ovarian tissue will not be affected.

Side effects of ovarian tissue cryopreservation

  • Bleeding and infection is a possibility.
  • Damage to the bladder and bowel from surgical removal of ovarian tissue.

Is cancer treatment delayed with this approach?

There is no delay.

Does this treatment affect my cancer returning?

Those with leukaemia or other blood cancers are at some risk of having cancer contaminated ovarian tissue placed back into the body. However, outside of this, there are no cases of cancer returning based on frozen ovarian tissue contamination.

References

For a full list of references, click here.
  1. Cancer, Fertility and Me. Ovarian Tissue Freezing. Retrieved 13th March, 2020. https://cancerfertilityandme.org.uk/fertility-preservation-options/ovarian-tissue-freezing
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