Cutting edge preservation options

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Oocyte cryogenics and vitrification may be the most popular and most successful fertility treatments around, but there are some exciting and new techniques on the medical horizon that could give women even more choices for preserving fertility.

Ovarian tissue cryopreservation. Women who endure chemotherapy and radiation therapies often go through accelerated menopause and lose their fertility. Ovarian tissue cryopreservation may be the thing that allows these cancer survivors to create a family. It sounds simple, doctors remove a small strip of ovarian tissue containing thousands of immature eggs, and freeze the tissue prior to cancer treatment.

When the woman is healthy and ready for a baby, the tissue is thawed and sewn back into the ovary. There is no hormone self-injection, which can be inconvenient and also stimulate the return of cancer. “When we vitrify ovarian tissue we get absolutely no egg loss at all,” says Dr. Sherman J. Silber, MD, head of the infertility center of St. Louis at St. Luke’s Hospital in Missouri. “I think ovarian tissue freezing is a better and cheaper option [than freezing eggs]”.

It’s still new. Only 14 births worldwide have resulted from the ovarian tissue transplants. The good news is that most were spontaneous and did not require IVF. This year, fifty clinics nationwide are offering the procedure.

Ovary cryopreservation. For healthy women concerned about delaying motherhood, the option for freezing an entire ovary and having it transplanted back in could be an option in the near future. “Imagine being 35 with the ovary of a 19 year old,” says Dr. Solver. “Women could conceive naturally with a better chance of success.” So far, about 20 healthy births have occurred using this technology.

Womb transplant. Uterine transplants would work for women who do not have a uterus, have a damaged uterus or abnormalities that won’t allow an embryo to implant. They would maintain their own functioning ovaries. The breakthrough doctors are looking for has to do with creating a consistent blood supply to the organ. Surgeons at Britain’s Hammersmith Hospital in London announced last fall that they had successfully done with a rabbit and hope to work with a human next year.

Source: Conceive Magazine


 
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