There are a variety of situations in which pursuing fertility preservation may offer a benefit.
Women Wishing to Preserve their Fertility Potential
In our society it is extremely common because of career choices and other factors for women to delay childbearing until later in life. Unfortunately for many women, this delay places them at a disadvantage for achieving pregnancy in their mid/late 30s or early 40s. Consequently, oocyte cryopreservation represents an “insurance policy” by which younger women, ideally under the age of 35, may have a fallback position should they be unsuccessful in achieving natural pregnancy later in life. While no technology, including oocyte cryopreservation, can guarantee future fertility, oocyte cryopreservation greatly increases the chances of achieving a future pregnancy. This strategy does not require women to fertilize oocytes with sperm prior to cryopreservation. Therefore, the decision of which sperm to use for fertilization may be deferred indefinitely with oocyte cryopreservation.
Younger Women with Cancer
Many oncologic treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation have been clearly linked to a profound decrease in fertility. Oocyte or embryo cryopreservation offers women with cancer the chance to preserve their fertility potential prior to being exposed to oncology therapies. Cryopreserved oocytes or embryos may be utilized once a cancer-free status is achieved if there is no residual ovarian function after therapy.
Couples with Ethical or Moral Concerns
Some couples undergoing IVF are concerned about freezing additional embryos that may not be used in the future. As an alternative, in the course of an IVF cycle it is now possible to only fertilize several oocytes, which could become embryos, while cryopreserving excess unfertilized oocytes. This approach allows couples to sequentially thaw and fertilize oocytes to generate the number of embryos necessary to achieve their reproductive goals. Excess unfertilized oocytes may then be discarded without concern.