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Ovarian tissue freezing

Ovarian tissue freezing is an emerging technique used in women who require fertility preservation prior to time-critical cancer treatment.

What is ovarian tissue freezing?

Ovarian tissue freezing involves removing part of the ovary for freezing, with the aim of re-implanting the ovarian tissue when the woman is ready. Following re-implantation, eggs within the ovarian tissue can grow and mature, providing women with the potential to have a baby.

Who may require ovarian tissue freezing?

Ovarian tissue freezing is used solely for women who require fertility preservation prior to time-critical cancer treatment. Certain chemotherapy, radiotherapy or surgical treatments associated with specific cancers can have lasting effects on a woman’s fertility. While egg freezing may be a more familiar technique for preserving fertility, ovarian tissue freezing has its advantages.

Ovarian tissue freezing can be completed within a quicker time frame, allowing for prompt commencement of cancer treatment. It does not require hormonal stimulation of the ovaries to produce eggs. Once re-implanted into the body, there is potential for the ovarian tissue to produce hormones and restore a woman’s hormonal levels to improve her quality of life. Lastly, it provides a preservation option for pre-pubertal girls, who otherwise cannot freeze eggs.

What does the freezing process involve?

Removal of ovarian tissue for freezing requires surgery under general anaesthesia. It will be performed by your Newlife IVF fertility specialist and involves making some small (keyhole) incisions in your abdomen to remove a wedge of ovarian tissue.

The ovarian tissue will be frozen and stored, until a time when you are ready for re-implantation.

Re-implantation will also occur in surgery under general anaesthesia. Once successfully implanted, the ovarian tissue will take a number of months to start producing hormones and mature eggs. At this stage, IVF will likely be used to conceive. However, there is also still the potential for natural conception.

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