In Spain, 364 women and 230 men have already benefited from the Fertility Preservation Plan for cancer patients, launched in 2007 by IVI clinics, and have deposited their ovules, ovarian tissue and sperm in one of these clinics for free, with the aim of being able to use them to have a baby when they are cured of the cancer they suffer.
The advances that have occurred in recent years in treatments to fight cancer (chemotherapy, radiotherapy or surgery) have allowed a large percentage of patients to overcome the disease; However, the aggressiveness of the therapies used sometimes causes unwanted consequences such as the loss of fertility in patients. That's why when a young person is diagnosed with cancer, one of the questions is whether they can have a baby when the treatment ends.
Pilar Dolz, an IVI psychologist, highlights how important it is for a young person who has just been diagnosed with cancer, to feel that the illness is temporary, that it has an end, and that there is a future. Thus, trusting their gametes to a clinic specialized in assisted reproduction to be able to recover them and try to be a father or mother after overcoming cancer is another step towards those future plans that have been momentarily truncated.
Sixty-eight percent of the women who have benefited from the IVI Fertility Preservation Plan suffer from breast cancer, a condition that affects many women of childbearing age. Chemotherapy or radiotherapy treatments may nullify or decrease the ovarian function of these patients; For this reason, the Spanish Breast Cancer Federation demands that they be informed about the possibility of availing themselves of the fertility plan so that in the future the maternity be a viable option for them.
As Dr. Juan Antonio García-Velasco, director of the IVI Fertility Preservation Plan, explains, to maintain the fertile capacity of women, two techniques are used: vitrification of ovules and the ovarian tissue freezing. In the first case, we proceed to the ovarian stimulation of the patient to subsequently extract mature ovules that are preserved vitrified until it is necessary to use them. On certain occasions, ovarian stimulation is contraindicated and then it is necessary to remove ovarian tissue, which freezes at 196 degrees below zero, which is known as cryopreservation, in order to implant it to the woman once she has overcome her illness and want to recover the ovarian function to try to be a mother.
The procedure in the case of men is simpler and consists in cryopreserving a sample of their semen before starting cancer therapy. Taking this simple step means multiplying the patient's chances of being a father, since experts estimate that after oncological treatment, normal sperm function only recovers in 20 to 30 percent of cases.
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