Fertility preservation in girls during childhood: is it feasible, efficient and safe and to whom should it be proposed?

Hum Reprod Update. 2010 Nov-Dec;16(6):617-30. doi: 10.1093/humupd/dmq010. Epub 2010 May 12.


Background: In prepubertal and adolescent girls, fertility may be impaired by gonadotoxic treatments, repeat ovarian surgery or genetic disorders. Cryopreservation of ovarian cortex is an existing option to preserve fertility in these young girls at risk of premature ovarian failure (POF). The efficacy, feasibility and risks of ovarian cryopreservation in children must be assessed in order to validate the technique.

Methods: Here, we conducted a review of ovarian cryopreservation in adults and, more specifically, in children using the PubMed databases. In addition, our own experience with ovarian cryopreservation in children was evaluated and compared with the literature.

Results: Analysis of the literature and six published series on ovarian cryopreservation in children, as well as our own series of 58 cases, show that there is no reason to doubt its efficacy in this young population. However, no consensus has yet been reached on the indications for the technique. Indeed, with existing models, the real risk of POF may be over- or underestimated.

Conclusion: Our review suggests that ovarian cortex cryopreservation is feasible and as safe as comparable operative procedures in children. Although no births have yet resulted from freeze-thawing of prepubertal ovarian cortex, the results of this approach in adults are encouraging. However, the absence of consensus on the indications for fertility preservation, as well as the optimal timing and quantity of ovarian cortex for cryopreservation, should be taken into consideration when discussing fertility issues with girls at risk of POF and their parents.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cryopreservation*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infertility / etiology
  • Infertility / therapy
  • Neoplasms / complications
  • Ovary*
  • Primary Ovarian Insufficiency / etiology
  • Primary Ovarian Insufficiency / prevention & control
  • Radiotherapy / adverse effects
  • Reproductive Techniques, Assisted* / adverse effects
  • Risk Assessment
  • Tissue Preservation