GPs urged to spread the word on fertility preservation

‚ÄčAssociate Professor Kate Stern (Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology) is keen to raise awareness among rural and regional clinicians that young people undergoing treatments that put their fertility at risk can now access fertility preservation services for free.

Fertility preservation message

The National Ovarian and Testicular Tissue Transport and Cryopreservation Service (NOTTCS), launched last September, is a new service based at the Royal Women’s Hospital, and the first of its kind in Australia.  So far the service has had 20 patients, all but one of whom have undertaken fertility-preserving procedures, but there is scope to take on more. Despite being located at The Women’s, the unit treats all genders.

The unit is offering webinars to clinicians and interested groups, in which doctors and scientists can explain the treatments and answer questions.

“Without doubt, the Covid-19 pandemic has complicated access to healthcare and ramped up stress on parents, so we really need to the help of clinicians to prompt parents to consider engaging with our service,” Kate says.

“It’s wonderful to be able to offer this advanced, comprehensive service for young people around Australia, especially those living in regional or remote area, who have less access to medical services overall.”

For young girls and women who need to commence cancer treatment without delay, ovarian tissue cryopreservation is the only fertility preserving option available. This is no longer considered experimental for post-pubertal girls and women, and there are now births reported after prepubertal tissue grafts.

For prepubertal boys, testicular tissue cryopreservation is the only preserving option. It is still considered experimental, but animal studies have confirmed feasibility, and this is now acknowledged as best practice in line with ethical guidelines.

Gonadal tissue cryopreservation requires specific technical and scientific expertise. There are few centres in Australia that not only provide this service but also have a proven track record with tissue cryopreservation, survival and grafting.

The Women's unit is recognised as the national leader in this field, with more than 25 years’ experience in tissue cryopreservation. Their cryopreserved ovarian tissue grafting has resulted in five live births and several additional ongoing pregnancies.

There has been, until now, a significant lack of opportunity for regional and rural patients who need fertility preservation. The new NOTTCS service has been generously supported by Sony Foundation Australia. Sony Foundation Australia is the charitable arm of the Sony Group of Companies in Australia.

While the service is free for young people, NOTTCS can still support all patients who need timely, ovarian or testicular tissue preservation prior to treatment. The service allows patients to stay local, and have their tissue preserved in a centre of excellence for this specialist service.

To arrange a webinar or order brochures for the service, please contact NOTTCS Fertility Preservation Coordinator Andrea Martin at Andrea.Martin@mivf.com.au or or nottcs@thewomens.org.au