Sperm, eggs or embryos can be frozen and stored for possible use in the future. This is known as cryopreservation. Cryopreservation of sperm, eggs or embryos may be a possible option for people who have been diagnosed with cancer, if the cancer treatment is likely to cause infertility.
If you are diagnosed with cancer, you should be given the opportunity to discuss your diagnosis and the effect of cancer treatment on your fertility, both with your cancer team and with a fertility specialist.
The decision to freeze some sperm, eggs or embryos depends on several things, including the type of cancer you have, your treatment plan and how quickly your treatment needs to start. Your healthcare team should also take into account whether future fertility treatment is likely to be successful, and whether the stored sample will still be usable when you are likely to need it. You should be able to have your frozen sample stored for at least 10 years.
The criteria for having fertility treatment that have been described throughout this information do not apply to people who have been diagnosed with cancer and wish to use cryopreservation to preserve their fertility. However, if you need to use your frozen sample in the future, these criteria will apply if you are having your treatment in the NHS.
If you are a man or adolescent boy you should be able to have a sperm sample frozen before your cancer treatment begins. Storage of your sperm should continue beyond 10 years if you are still at risk of fertility problems after this time.
Women (and adolescent girls, if appropriate) who are well enough to have ovarian stimulation and egg collection should be offered either egg or embryo storage, depending on which is most suitable, before cancer treatment begins.
You and your healthcare team should discuss whether there is enough time to have this procedure before your cancer treatment needs to start (the egg collection process can take several weeks), taking into account whether it may worsen your condition or outlook.