Fertility preservation (freezing eggs, sperm, and embryos)
What is fertility preservation?
When we freeze your sperm, eggs (oocytes), or embryos for later use, it’s called fertility preservation. The process of freezing is also called cryopreservation.
There are many types of fertility preservation. The right one for you depends on your gender and situation.
You should consider fertility preservation if your fertility might decrease and you want children in the future. For example, if you are about to undergo cancer treatment or your sperm count is dropping.
Fertility preservation for non-medical reasons is also becoming more and more popular. You can freeze your eggs or sperm if you are not ready to have a child just yet.
You are not available on the day of your female partner’s fertility treatment.
Your sperm count is declining or fluctuating.
Before you have a vasectomy.
Before you undergo chemotherapy.
"We can freeze your sperm for up to 15 years. This is especially helpful if your sperm count or quality is dropping. It’s also a good idea before you have a vasectomy - it might make your decision to have the procedure a bit easier to make."
Egg freezing (or oocyte freezing)
Ethical reasonsYou find freezing of embryos ethically unacceptable.
Ovarian failureYou are young, have declining ovarian function, and no male partner.
Cancer treatmentBefore you undergo chemotherapy and if you prefer freezing your eggs instead of ovarian tissue.
Timing with a male partnerYour male partner is unable to provide a semen sample on the day of your egg collection. For example, he may be a fly-in fly-out worker.
Non-medical egg freezingYou are concerned about your fertility declining as you age. You are not ready or willing to have a child just yet, but you want to freeze your eggs for future use. You do not necessarily need a medical reason.
"There are many reasons you might want to freeze your eggs. For example, you may not be quite ready to have children yet. But you want to freeze your eggs while you’re young - just in case."
During in vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment, we collect eggs and sperm. These are used to generate embryos. As our clinic usually only transfers one embryo to the uterus with each treatment cycle, the remaining embryos can be frozen. They can then be used for future fertility treatments.
The success rate of thawing a frozen embryo is higher than thawing a frozen egg. Under WA law, embryos may be stored for 10 years. It is possible to apply for an extension to store the embryos for longer.
Fertility preservation for cancer patients
"We understand that being diagnosed with cancer is a scary and stressful time of your life. We aim to see you within 3 working days of a referral from your oncologist, surgeon, or GP. Our experienced team of fertility specialists, scientists and nurses will do everything we can to improve your chances of conceiving in the future"
Storing eggs, sperm, and/or embryos.
Fertility preservation in breast cancer patients. This specifically includes low-hormone stimulation cycles to avoid high oestrogen levels.
Counselling for individuals and couples in treatment.
Temporary ovarian suppression fertility preservation. Some drugs, such as Zoladex®, are given after egg or embryo freezing to suppress ovarian function and help protect the ovaries during chemo or radiotherapy.
It is important to note your cancer treatment comes first, and fertility treatment or preservation second. Fertility treatment should never delay your cancer treatment.
We will also discuss your individual health situation. Specifically, cancer treatment may lead to early onset menopause in some women. This an important consideration before we choose the best option for you.
Non-medical fertility preservation is when you freeze your eggs or sperm for social reasons.
Medical fertility preservation can be undertaken before cancer treatment or before a vasectomy.
In WA, we are able to keep sperm and eggs frozen for 15 years and embryos for 10 years.