If you hope to start a family someday but can’t have children right now because of a medical condition or other reasons, you should consider fertility preservation.
With fertility preservation, we take certain steps—such as freezing your eggs—to improve your chances of conceiving later.
Reproductive endocrinologists from University of Iowa Health Care offer several types of fertility preservation. For example, you can turn to us for assistance if:
- You want to put off having children until you’re older but are concerned about age-related fertility problems
- You’re scheduled to have cancer treatments that could cause infertility
- You take medicine for a medical condition, such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, which can harm your eggs or sperm
- You’re a transgender person who wants to freeze your eggs or sperm before transitioning to male or female
Regardless of your medical needs or personal preferences, we’ll help you have children on the timeline that works for you.
How fertility preservation works
When you pursue fertility preservation, we’ll collect (or protect) your eggs or sperm now. Then, when you’re ready to build your family, you’ll have viable reproductive options—despite your age or previous medical treatments.
Types of fertility preservation we offer
Our team specializes in the following techniques:
After you take medicine that causes your ovaries to produce multiple eggs in a given month, we collect them through a minor surgical procedure. Then, we freeze and store them for you to use in the future.
We collect some of your eggs as described above, then fertilize them in a lab using sperm from your partner or a donor. We then grow them into embryos for five to six days and freeze them.
During this option for women with cancer, we use hormone injections to shut down your ovaries. This experimental option may help protect your eggs from the toxic effects of chemotherapy.
We offer this option to women who need radiation therapy in their pelvic area. During the procedure, we move your ovaries away from the area that will be targeted with radiation. This lowers the risk of radiation exposure (and subsequent damage) to your ovaries.
We collect one or more semen samples and freeze them for you to use in the future.
A collaborative approach
Because there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to fertility preservation, you should seek advice from an experienced reproductive endocrinologist.
At UI Health Care, you’ll have a partner to help you understand your options—and make a well-informed decision.
And if you’re pursuing fertility preservation for medical reasons, your other providers also will be involved. For example, if you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, we’ll collaborate with your oncologist. By understanding which cancer treatments you’ll need and when you’ll need them, we can narrow down your fertility preservation options.
What to expect
If you’re considering fertility preservation, there are a few things you should know before making your decision.
Fertility preservation is an ideal option for people who are concerned about their future fertility and for whom timing may be important. For example:
- If you have cancer, it’s important to move forward with fertility preservation before you start treatment. And in cases where you need to start treatment immediately, you may have fewer options. Although we can quickly perform sperm freezing, the process of creating and freezing embryos can take a couple of weeks.
- If you’re transitioning from one gender to another, we prefer to collect and freeze your eggs or sperm before you begin hormone therapy. However, it can be done afterwards, as well.
- If you want to proactively freeze your eggs or embryos for personal reasons (elective fertility preservation), timing isn’t as critical. But ideally, you’ll move forward before your fertility begins to decline—usually after age 35 for women.
Health insurance coverage for fertility preservation varies from plan to plan.
For example, some insurance plans won’t cover embryo freezing for any reason. Others will cover it as part of an approved in vitro fertilization (IVF) procedure.
And while some plans will cover fertility preservation services for people with cancer, they may not cover elective fertility preservation.
For these reasons, please check with your health insurance provider about coverage before making any decisions. Our team can also help you figure out how much you’ll need to pay for any service.
Building your family
We’ll make it easy for you to expand your family when the timing is right.
Whenever possible, we encourage our patients to try getting pregnant on their own. You aren’t required to use any frozen eggs, embryos, or sperm we’ve stored for you.
However, if you need (or prefer) our assistance, simply give us a call. Depending on which fertility preservation option you choose, we’ll discuss any steps you’ll need to take before trying to conceive.
Additional options for building your family
If you’re having trouble conceiving despite fertility preservation, we offer additional services that may help you become a parent.
- Infertility treatments: We offer treatments such as intrauterine insemination (IUI) and in vitro fertilization (IVF) to individuals and couples who need extra help getting pregnant.
- Using a donor: We offer access to donor eggs, embryos, and sperm.
- Surrogacy (gestational carrier services): We offer gestational carrier services to people who can’t carry a pregnancy. This means another woman carries and gives birth to your child.