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Fertility preservation

Preserving your fertility involves freezing your eggs, sperm, embryos or reproductive tissue so that you can hopefully have a biological family in the future. This page will explain why you might want to preserve your fertility and what the process involves.

Why preserve your fertility?

If you're having cancer treatment

If you're having certain types of cancer treatment, including chemotherapy or radiotherapy, you might want to consider freezing your eggs, sperm or embryos. This is because some of the drugs used in cancer treatment can cause infertility, especially in high doses.

Find out more about how cancer can affect your fertility on NHS Choices

If you're in the Armed Forces

If you're in the British Armed Forces you might choose to freeze your sperm, eggs or embryos before deployment to preserve your fertility in case of injury. This option can give you peace of mind that whatever happens you may be able to have a family in the future. Some clinics offer discounted treatment for members of the Armed Forces.

If you're not ready to have a family

Not everyone feels ready for motherhood at the same time. You might want to preserve your fertility because you haven't met the right partner, you don't feel financially or emotionally ready, or you have other life plans you want to pursue.

If you're planning on having gender reassignment surgery

If you're a male transitioning to a female or a female transitioning to a male you may want to preserve your fertility before you have surgery. 

Treatment options

Egg freezing

Egg freezing is a method of preserving a woman’s fertility so she can try and have children at a later date. This page will explain how the process works, its success rates and risks.

Find out more about Egg freezing

Sperm freezing

Sperm freezing is the most effective method of preserving a man's fertility and can be stored from patients as young as 13 if needed.

Find out more about Sperm freezing

Embryo freezing

Embryo freezing is the most effective method for women preserving their fertility. However, you either need to have a partner or you need to be happy to create an embryo using donor sperm so it's not an option for everyone.

Find out more about Embryo freezing

Ovarian tissue freezing

Research has shown that freezing ovarian tissue can be an effective method of allowing women to have a successful pregnancy after cancer treatment if they don't have time to freeze their eggs. It's also the only option to preserve the fertility of younger girls who haven't started ovulating.

Testicular tissue freezing

Testicular tissue freezing is a technique to preserving the fertility of men who do not produce viable sperm in their ejaculate (azoospermia).

Delaying parenthood

Many of these techniques have low success rates so it's important you accept they may not work. Talking to a fertility counsellor will help you to understand all your options

The importance of counselling

Preserving your fertility is a serious and complicated issue. It's for this reason that clinics must give you an opportunity to receive counselling before you have treatment.

Get support

Giving your consent

It's extremely important that you understand how to legally give your consent to treatment so your reproductive material is used in a way that you're happy with. 

How to give consent

Finding a clinic

If you're paying for treatment and you're ready to find a clinic we recommend you have a look at our clinic guide for. As with any service, there can be big differences in prices, quality of care and success rates so it's really worth shopping around to find the clinic that is right for you.

How to choose a clinic

What happens in the event of your death?

You can choose whether you want your eggs, sperm, embryos or reproductive tissue to be used after your death or whether you want them to be destroyed. In these cases you would need to specify who would be able to use them.

Find out more about the use of reproductive material after death

Treatment on the NHS

Whether a treatment is available on the NHS depends on where you live. Generally people who need treatment for medical reasons (such as cancer or early menopause) can have this on the NHS whereas those who are having it as a lifestyle choice can't. Speak to your GP about what is available

Publication date: 9 November 2018

Review date: 9 November 2020

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