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The board-certified physicians at Northwestern Medicine Center for Fertility and Reproductive Medicine offer innovative, effective fertility options, including fertility preservation services.
When should I consider fertility preservation?
Fertility Preservation Services
Embryo freezing: Medications are used for approximately two weeks to stimulate the ovaries so that they grow multiple eggs. During a quick outpatient procedure, a physician retrieves those eggs, which are then fertilized, frozen and stored for future implantation.
Egg (oocyte) freezing: Medications are used for approximately two weeks to stimulate the ovaries so that they grow multiple eggs. During a quick outpatient procedure, a physician retrieves those eggs and they are frozen immediately. These eggs are stored in a long-term storage facility until desired for future fertilization and implantation.
Ovarian tissue cryopreservation: This experimental procedure involves surgical removal and freezing of a portion or an entire ovary until desired for future use.
Hormonal therapy: Some medications may help protect the follicles that house eggs in a woman’s ovary while she is undergoing chemotherapy. Some studies have shown a modest benefit from such treatment; other studies have shown no benefit at all. These medications are typically injected once a month by a member of the healthcare team.
Sperm banking: For men and transgender women, sperm banking is the most effective method of preserving fertility before receiving chemotherapy, radiation, or hormonal or surgical treatment. After meeting with a reproductive urologist, the patient provides semen, from which sperm, if present, is removed and frozen for future use.
Testicular sperm extraction (TESE): For patients who are unable to provide a semen sample through masturbation, sometimes sperm can be directly removed from the testicle in an outpatient surgical procedure by a reproductive urologist.
Testicular tissue cryopreservation: This experimental procedure involves removing and freezing a portion of the testicle for potential use in the future. Research is ongoing for how best to use this tissue, but it may be a fertility preservation opportunity for young boys who have not gone through puberty.
Cancer Treatment and Fertility Preservation
Northwestern Medicine has been on the leading edge of the effort to give all young people, including young people with cancer, a chance to build families in the future. In fact, the term “oncofertility,” referring to the campaign to expand the reproductive options of patients with cancer, was coined in 2006 by Northwestern Medicine Reproductive Scientist Teresa Woodruff, PhD.
If you are facing cancer treatment or another medical procedure and wish to pursue fertility preservation, we can move quickly in order to avoid delaying your treatment. You will have support from a Northwestern Medicine patient navigator, who can discuss your fertility preservation options with you, your family and your oncology treatment team. Your patient navigator can also help expedite appointments in the Reproductive Endocrinology office, and serves as a resource as you begin to learn about your treatment plan and how it may impact your future fertility.
More information about strategies for fertility preservation in patients with cancer, as well as stories from other patients, can be found at preservefertility.northwestern.edu. You can reach our patient navigator for fertility preservation directly at 312.503.3378.
Fertility Preservation for Children
If you are the parent or guardian of a child or teen with a condition or upcoming treatment that threatens their future fertility, be sure to ask about the proposed treatment plan and its potential impact on future fertility. Many resources are available online, and you can call 312.503.3378 to speak to our patient navigator, who can talk to you about fertility preservation options and where to go for help. There is no charge for this service.
FERTILITY PRESERVATION FOR CANCER PATIENTS
Kristin Smith, Patient Navigator
EGG FREEZING OPTIONS
Eve Feinberg, MD, and Angela Lawson, PhD
LGBTQ FAMILY OPTIONS
Our faculty and staff provide an inclusive and supportive environment for all patients undergoing fertility treatment, regardless of gender, sexual orientation or marital status.