Young women should consider freezing their ovarian tissue in their 20s and even late teens, according to a fertility surgeon in the US. Dr Sherman Silber controversially recommends a new technique that freezes tiny slivers of ovaries containing tens of thousands of eggs, which can be used in fertility treatment later in life.
“Women come to us at 35 or 38 after they’ve broken up with their boyfriend of 10 years and they are worried about the future,” said Dr Sherman. ‘Women should think about it earlier when they have more, better quality eggs. A woman could freeze her ovary aged 19 and have a 19-year-old ovary aged 40.”
The new technique is currently not available in the UK and has only been used on a small number of women. Costing around £4,000 a procedure, Dr Sherman claims it works out cheaper than several rounds of IVF. It does not affect fertility, so women will be still be able to try to conceive naturally.
But critics have said this is not an alternative to choosing the appropriate time to have a baby. “I would have to urge caution,” said Susan Seenan from Infertility Network UK. “The best time to have children is when a woman is younger.”
The chairman of the British Fertility Society, Tony Rutherford also said it was too soon to make these recommendations and insisted more research is necessary find out exactly how effective the treatment is.
“We don’t know how many people have grafts and therefore we don’t know how many have been successful and how many have failed,” he explained.
And it’s not just women who are being told to plan ahead. Men whose fertility is put at risk by cancer treatments should be given more advice about banking their sperm, according to Cancer Research UK. Currently, only 25% of cancer doctors and 38% of blood specialists said they discussed saving semen with their patients.