What is fertility preservation?
Fertility preservation means the use of methods to protect a person’s fertility before planned treatments.
Fertility in women
Unlike men, who continuously produce sperm all their life, women have a store of egg cells at birth. There is a “pool” of more than 100,000 immature egg cells in the ovarian tissue, which cannot proliferate, but an egg develops in the middle of each monthly cycle which is capable of being fertilized. The pool is slowly used up until an average age of 51 years, when the so-called menopause (last menstruation) begins.
Any external influence which accelerates the loss of eggs (e.g., smoking, radiation, chemotherapy) results in the duration of the fertile phase decreasing and the menopause can begin earlier than expected. This process can lead to reduced fertility or infertility in women.
Fertility in men
Unlike women, the germ cells in men are able to continually renew themselves by cell division. As long as healthy germ cells are present, they can produce new sperm.
External influences such as radiotherapy or chemotherapy for the treatment of cancer can damage these sperm-generating germ cells. This process can lead to reduced fertility or infertility in men.
Different methods are available to preserve fertility, which can be combined depending on the planned treatment. Further information can be found here.