What is Oncofertility?

Oncofertility is an emerging field of medicine that bridges the gap between oncology and reproductive medicine. Cancer treatments like chemotherapy, surgery and radiation can cause permanent damage to the endocrine system causing infertility. Specialists in urology and reproductive medicine are emerging who work with cancer patients to ensure they have a future as a biological parent by storing their sperm, oocytes, embryos or ovarian tissue.

These same specialists can advise cancer survivors on family planning post treatment including third party reproduction like using donor sperm, egg donors or a gestational carrier, or assisted reproduction like in-vitro fertilization. When a male cancer survivor has frozen sperm stored, he will use assisted reproduction to produce a pregnancy. His options vary based on the quality of the specimen when it was frozen and the quantity of vials he has stored. Based on common sperm parameters such as sperm count, motility percentage of sperm that can move forward normally) and morphology (shape of the sperm), a reproductive endocrinologist will determine which of the following methods is most appropriate:

  • Intra-uterine insemination – a procedure which involves placing the sperm directly into a woman’s uterus during the ovulatory period to facilitate fertilization.
  • In-vitro fertilization without ICSI - a procedure that takes place in a petri dish to facilitate fertilization.
  • In-vitro fertilization with ICSI – a procedure that also takes place in a petri dish and involves a single sperm with a single egg.

ICSI is the acronym for Intracytoplasmic sperm injection and refers to a single sperm being injected directly into the egg. This is used when sperm parameters or sperm quantity are low.

The California Cryobank offers sperm banking for cancer patients, military members, first responders and anyone facing medical issues that threaten fertility. For more information, contact FertileFuture@cryobank.com or call 866-477-3762. 

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