Why might I consider treatments to preserve my fertility?
You may not want to have a baby now, or you can’t even try. However, you may still want to keep your options open for the future. If so, you may consider options to preserve your fertility.
If you are to receive treatment for cancer or any other health condition that may involve medication or undergo surgery, this may affect your chances of having a child in the future. If so, you may want to discuss fertility preservation with your doctor before receiving treatment.
Healthy women who want to postpone starting a family for personal reasons may choose to have their eggs frozen to increase their chances of conceiving successfully later in life. Some people with diverse sexes may also consider preserving fertility before converting.
What options do I have to preserve my fertility?
There are more ways to preserve fertility than ever before, as technological advances create options for both men and women. Obviously, the procedures differ between men and women. The procedure used will also depend on why a person needs to maintain their fertility. For example, it may be because they are receiving chemotherapy or radiotherapy for cancer, or they are taking medications for other conditions that affect fertility.
Women can choose to freeze their eggs for use later in life. The quality and quantity of a woman’s eggs often declines with age; Freezing high-quality eggs that are removed at a younger age can increase the chance of a successful pregnancy later on.
You can also choose to freeze embryos (eggs that have already been fertilized by sperm) for later use. Eggs and embryos can be extracted and frozen using a procedure similar to in vitro fertilization (IVF). Instead of transplanting, samples are frozen for use later in life.
If egg freezing isn’t an option, your doctor may advise you to undergo a minor surgery to remove a small portion of your ovary. This section can then be frozen and grafted onto the ovary later. The goal is for you to start working normally, allowing you to ovulate and conceive normally.
Men can maintain their fertility by freezing sperm. For healthy men who can ejaculate, this is a relatively simple procedure. Men who are unable or unwilling to masturbate to produce a semen sample can undergo minor surgery to remove sperm directly from the testicles.
What are the chances of getting pregnant after fertility preservation treatment?
IVF success rates after egg/embryo freezing vary widely based on several variables, such as your age, but are usually between 25 and 40 percent. Partial ovarian freezing is not commonly performed but has been successful in more than 100 cases worldwide. You can ask your doctor if partial ovarian freezing is appropriate for you.
How much do fertility preservation treatments cost?
In Australia, fertility treatments, including fertility preservation, can be expensive. Part of the cost may be covered by, or if you have, you will need to be referred for fertility preservation treatment by your doctor. Most people will also need to pay some out-of-pocket fees, but this will vary depending on your circumstances, for example, based on: In Australia, fertility treatments, including fertility preservation, can be expensive. Medicare — or private health insurance, if you have it — may cover part of the cost, but you’ll need to be referred for fertility preservation treatment by your doctor. Most people will also need to pay some out-of-pocket fees, but this will vary depending on your circumstances. For example, fees may be based in part on:
- Services you need
- How much does your doctor charge?
- Whether you have private health insurance
In addition to any fees associated with treatments you may need later, egg, embryo or sperm storage fees are usually charged annually and are not reimbursed by Medicare.
Talk to your doctor, a specialist clinic, and your health insurance company to find out the different costs and whether you, Medicare, or your health insurance will cover the costs.
Is fertility preservation available to everyone?
Access to assisted reproductive technologies (ART), including fertility preservation, is determined by national ethical guidelines and Australian state law. Individuals and spouses may not be denied treatment because of their gender identity or relationship status. However, not everyone who seeks fertility treatment will receive Medicare funding.
Does fertility preservation involve any legal issues?
Fertility clinics must follow Australian law and ethical guidelines covering the collection and storage of eggs, sperm and embryos for fertility preservation and fertility treatment. These may vary from state to state. Your doctor or local fertility clinic will be able to help you better understand your options and opportunities in your state or territory.
Check out our service finder to find a fertility service near you.
Who can I speak to for more information and support?
Thinking about fertility preservation can be daunting and it can help to talk to people you trust. The choices available to you will depend on your specific medical and other conditions. See your doctor and medical team for advice.
The Royal Women’s Hospital of Victoria has produced a video about treatment options to preserve fertility during cancer treatment.
You can also contact the following organizations for information and support: