With ovary transplantation, however, "She's got a normally functioning ovary just like she would have if she were younger. Freezing the ovary and putting it back is much more sure for the patient than egg freezing," he said.
Silber and his colleagues also reported at the meeting on one woman who had her ovary removed, frozen and then restored. But they said they've done the procedure nine times. "It's very repeatable," Silber said. "It's not just a fluke."
Silber said that if a woman receives a cancer diagnosis, "ask about freezing your ovary. In addition, young women who are going to put off childbearing should also think about having one of their ovaries frozen," he added.
Dr. Richard J. Paulson, chief of the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine, in Los Angeles, thinks the new reports are encouraging but preliminary.
"This is very exciting," Paulson said. "Fertility preservation is our next major frontier, because what we have found is that women with cancer are increasingly surviving their chemotherapy but are infertile. It would be very helpful if we could have a method to preserve their fertility."
Although women are having their eggs frozen, many women can't go through the procedure to harvest the eggs, Paulson said. "It would be very appealing to take the ovary out and freeze it for the future," he said.
However, Paulson noted that, so far, no woman had become pregnant after her ovary had been removed, frozen and put back.
For more on infertility, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
SOURCES: Sherman Silber, M.D., director, Infertility Center of St. Louis at St. Luke's Hospital; Richard J. Paulson, M.D., profes
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