Egg (oocyte) freezing (cryopreservation)
Egg freezing (also called egg or oocyte cryopreservation) is a procedure in which eggs are removed from the ovary and frozen. The patient receives hormones to stimulate the ovaries to produce eggs. The eggs are removed. Later the eggs can be thawed, fertilized with sperm in the lab to form embryos, and placed in a woman’s uterus.
Egg freezing is only an option for girls who have started having menstrual cycles. This option is not always possible because cancer treatment must be delayed for a few weeks to harvest the eggs. It can also be a risk for patients with tumors that are sensitive to hormones.
Embryo freezing (cryopreservation)
Embryo freezing (cryopreservation) is another way of preserving fertility. But this option is only available for women who have gone through puberty. Also, it requires a sperm donor.
For this option, the woman undergoes a procedure called in vitro fertilization (IVF). The woman receives hormones to stimulate the ovaries to produce eggs. The eggs are removed. Embryos are created by joining together the sperm and eggs. They are frozen. Later in life, one or two embryos can be placed in the woman’s uterus (womb) with or without the help of medications.
Like egg freezing, this option requires a treatment delay and involves the use of hormones.
Ovarian transposition (oophoropexy)
This option is usually only offered if the patient is having another surgical procedure because it is quite invasive. During this procedure, surgeons move the ovaries away from the area receiving radiation therapy. The goal is to move the ovaries within the pelvis where they can still function but won’t be exposed to radiation.