Receiving a leukemia diagnosis is one of the most trying things an individual can experience. Treatment for leukemia often involves chemotherapy and radiation. While both of these treatment methods are effective, they also have the potential to substantially reduce or even eliminate the chance of a woman starting a family in the future.
Making the decision to preserve fertility prior to the start of treatment can allow women who have undergone leukemia treatment to have their own biological children once they’re ready to start a family. There are a number of options for fertility preservation, each of which addresses a different need.
Ovarian Tissue Freezing
Ovarian tissue freezing is the process of removing the outer layer of the ovaries. This layer is where the eggs are located until they are needed during ovulation. Ovarian tissue may be removed, frozen, and stored without the need for fertility medication. The procedure may be performed on girls who have not yet reached puberty. Once a woman finishes treatment and is ready to start a family, her ovarian tissue can be placed back in her body where it will behave normally. This process allows a woman to conceive naturally using eggs that were undisturbed during leukemia treatment.
Women who are in committed relationships may want to consider embryo freezing. This process uses fertility medication in order to retrieve a number of eggs. Those eggs are then fertilized and can be monitored during development. Additionally, preimplantation genetic testing may be done on the embryos so that the couple knows how many healthy embryos they will have available once the leukemia treatment is complete. This process may also be done using donor sperm. From beginning to end, this process takes several weeks and should take place before leukemia treatment begins.
Similar to embryo freezing, this preservation option requires that women have the time and availability to undergo treatment. The difference is that the retrieved eggs are frozen and stored until they are needed rather than being fertilized. Unfortunately, genetic testing cannot be performed on the eggs.
For additional information on the process to preserve fertility during leukemia treatment, contact Dr. John Zhang at New Hope Fertility Center today. Please call 917.525.5496..