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Fertility PreservationFertility Preservation

What is fertility preservation?

Our ovaries and testes are vital reproductive organs in our body. They are extremely sensitive to injury from medications, diseases, chemotherapy and radiation. Fertility preservation refers to strategies hoping to retain one’s fertility from the damage of such anti-cancer treatment or medical treatments that renders his/her infertile, offering a chance to have their biological offspring in the future.

Who should be considering fertility preservation?

Patients with Malignant Conditions

Patients with Benign Conditions

Available methods for fertility preservation

For Men
Sperm Freezing

Freezing the sperm before surgery or anti-cancer treatment is a simple and effective mean for preserving fertility in men. Their sperm can be thawed and used later with the aid of assisted reproductive technology when they are married and fully recovered from their cancer.

For Women

Fertility preservation in women is more complex. It will depend on the time available before anti-cancer treatment and whether she has a male partner or not.

Embryo Freezing

The most established method is freezing embryos. In this procedure, hormones are given to the patient to stimulate her ovaries to produce a certain amount of mature eggs. These eggs are then collected surgically. The eggs will be fertilized with her husband’s sperm to create embryos. These embryos will then be frozen for future use and transferred back into her womb when she has fully recovered from her cancer.

This method is suitable for female cancer patients who are already married and have adequate time for ovarian hormonal stimulation before their anti-cancer treatment. It is not suitable for those who need to have their anti-cancer started immediately. Moreover, during the ovarian stimulation process, there is a temporary increase in the hormones level which may lead to regrowth of some tumor cells.

What if I am single?

Freezing Mature Eggs

In case you are single, you can consider freezing your mature eggs. In this method, the mature eggs are collected surgically and frozen after hormonal stimulation. However, again, this method requires time for ovarian stimulation causing possible delay in starting anti-cancer treatment. It will also lead to temporary increase in hormone levels which may lead to regrowth of some tumor cells. In addition, according to current literature, you need to freeze at least 20 mature eggs in order to have a reasonable chance of having a baby born. Thus, some patients may need to undergo more than one cycle of ovarian stimulation.

What if I don’t have time for ovarian stimulation?

The following treatments are being developed in Prince of Wales Hospital but at present we can refer to centres with established service.

Freezing Immature Eggs

In case you don’t have time for ovarian stimulation, you can consider collecting the immature eggs surgically without ovarian stimulation.

Freezing Ovarian Tissue

In recent years, the ART Unit has achieved significant technological breakthroughs in the field. Through ovarian tissue cryopreservation, the ART Unit helps female cancer patients who may become infertile due to chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Before cancer treatment, small pieces of ovarian tissue from the patient are collected and frozen for preservation, which can help retain their reproductive ability.

For more information about ovarian tissue preservation, please contact the ART Unit at 3505 1456 or email us at ivfhkmed@cuhk.edu.hk.

For Children

If you want to know more about the children fertility preservation service, please contact the ART Unit at 3505 1456 or email us at ivfhkmed@cuhk.edu.hk.

Are there any regulations in Hong Kong concerning fertility preservation?

Yes, the Code of Practice on Reproductive Technology and Embryo Research from the Council on Human Reproductive Technology has set regulations on fertility preservation. For details, please visit http://www.chrt.org.hk/english/service/files/code.pdf or contact our staff.

How much does the fertility preservation service costs in our unit?

At this moment, fertility preservation service in our unit is still provided as a private service only. For details of the cost, please read the costs of private service.