If you have a female or male patient who may be interested in the option of fertility preservation, please feel free reach out to Mrs. Lodato Hunt via any of the below options. She will be able to connect with your patient to help her/him through next steps.
Jordan Lodato Hunt, MSW, LCSWA
UNC Fertility Preservation Clinical Coordinator
Phone: (919) 843-8246
Pager: (919) 216 6097
What is Fertility Preservation?
Fertility Preservation means taking steps to protect your ability to have children in the future. Fertility Preservation involves exploring what steps can be taken before, during, and after a medical treatment that has the potential to negatively impact your fertility. The goal is to identify ways to ensure that you are able to attempt to have a biological child after treatment, in case you find that you are infertile when you try to do so. For women who have gone through puberty, this typically means collecting and freezing eggs or embryos before undergoing a treatment that may result in infertility. For men who have gone through puberty, this typically means collecting and freezing sperm.
UNC Fertility has a team solely dedicated to patients undergoing fertility preservation treatment. Learn more about the Fertility Preservation Program here.
Who should consider Fertility Preservation options?
Any patient who has been diagnosed with a condition whose treatment places them at risk of infertility should talk to a medical provider about the Fertility Preservation options available to them. This includes many patients diagnosed with cancer, kidney disease, or other illnesses. Many patients who are gender nonconforming and/or are pursuing gender transition also benefit from learning about Fertility Preservation options.
UNC Fertility has a team solely dedicated to patients undergoing fertility preservation treatment/learn more about the Fertility Preservation Program here.
Infertility in women means you are not able to start or keep a pregnancy. This can happen if:
- Your ovaries no longer have a supply of healthy eggs
- Your reproductive system is damaged
Infertility in men means that you are not able to get someone pregnant. This can happen if:
- You do not make sperm
- You make low numbers of sperm or the sperm you do make is low quality
- Your reproductive system is damaged and sperm is not able to exit your body
When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, my baby girl was 16 months old, and we had not yet decided whether we wanted to have another baby. It felt like cancer was going to take away all of our choices. Jordan did a wonderful job of explaining the options available to us and guiding us through the process. We are grateful for the work of the fertility preservation team at UNC Fertility to give us our choices back, and hopefully, let us continue to build our family after cancer.
Potential Ways to Preserve Fertility in Women
- Egg or Embryo banking: This involves hormone injections to help you grow eggs. These eggs are then taken from your ovaries. At this point, your eggs can be frozen for future use or fertilized with sperm from your partner or a sperm donor. A fertilized egg is called an embryo and embryos can be frozen and stored. Both egg and embryo freezing take about 2 weeks depending on your menstrual cycle. If you are not able to get pregnant on your own after you finish your cancer treatments, your frozen eggs or embryos can be thawed to help you try to have a child. Your UNC Fertility team will explain your options for carrying a pregnancy.
- Ovarian suppression (Lupron): A special medicine (Lupron) is given that cause your ovaries to shut down while you are getting treatment. This may help protect your ovaries from damage caused by chemotherapy.
- Ovarian tissue freezing: Part or all of the ovary is removed during an outpatient surgery. This is an experimental treatment with research being done to use this tissue to grow eggs in a laboratory. This option is most commonly used for girls who have not yet gone through puberty, or women whose cancer treatment plan does not allow time for egg or embryo freezing. Currently, this procedure is not being done at UNC but we can refer you to a center where this is available.
Ways to Preserve Fertility in Men
- Sperm Banking: A sample of sperm is collected, analyzed, frozen and stored for future use. Sperm banking is usually done before any cancer treatments are started. The sperm can be thawed later and used for fertility treatments such as insemination or IVF (in vitro fertilization). Sperm samples can be collected by masturbation at UNG Fertility (in Raleigh), in your home or in the hospital (if you are inpatient). Sometimes, it is not possible to collect a sperm sample with masturbation. In this case, a urologist may be able to use various other techniques to get a sperm sample.
- Testicular Sperm Extraction (TESE): A minor surgical procedure that removes a small piece of testicular tissue. These tissues are examined under a microscope to be sure they contain sperm. During fertility preservation, these sperm are then frozen for future use. This procedure may be done if a man has no sperm in his ejaculate, if he is unable to ejaculate or to get an erection or for boys who have not yet finished going through puberty.
- Immature Testicular Tissue Extraction: Immature testicular tissue that includes cells that make sperm are surgically removed and frozen. This experimental procedure is only for boys who are not yet producing sperm. Currently, this procedure is not being done at UNC but we can refer you to a center where this is available.
I’d like to learn more about Fertility Preservation. What should I do?
Great! UNC has a Fertility Preservation Clinical Coordinator, Jordan Hunt, who is available to discuss any questions you or your family may have regarding fertility preservation. You can reach her by:
Jordan Lodato Hunt
Phone: (919) 843-8246
Jordan can walk you through the options available, and the costs and logistics involved with each. If you decide to pursue Fertility Preservation, Jordan can help connect you with an appropriate provider at UNC Fertility.