Risks associated with fertility preservation for women with sickle cell anemia

Fertil Steril. 2018 Sep;110(4):720-731. doi: 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2018.05.016.


Objective: To highlight the risk of complications among women with sickle cell anemia (SCA) receiving fertility preservation treatment (FPT) before hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT).

Design: Single-center case series.

Setting: Academic fertility center.

Patient(s): Women aged 15-32 years with SCA undergoing FPT before HSCT.

Intervention(s): Retrospective, systematic review.

Main outcome measure(s): FPT modality, SCA complications during FPT.

Result(s): Over an 8-year period (2009-2017), seven women with SCA ages 15-32 years (mean 28.5 years) underwent FPT with embryo cryopreservation (n = 1), oocyte cryopreservation (n = 4), and ovarian tissue cryopreservation (n = 2). The five women subjects who underwent oocyte or embryo cryopreservation were treated with an antagonist controlled ovarian hyperstimulation protocol and individualized gonadotropin dosing. The trigger medications included leuprolide acetate (n = 2), and human chorionic gonadotropin (n = 3). Most patients (n = 5) received a disease-modifying therapy for SCA (hydroxyurea or chronic transfusions) before FPT. Three patients experienced periprocedural SCA complications that included life-threatening respiratory failure, painful crisis requiring interruption of a stimulation cycle, and severe postharvest painful crisis.

Conclusion(s): Women with SCA may choose to undergo diverse FPT strategies before HSCT and are at risk for serious SCA-related complications. Evidence-based strategies to mitigate SCA-related morbidity and to optimize fertility preservation outcomes are needed.

Keywords: Bone marrow transplant; female infertility; fertility preservation treatment; sickle cell anemia; sickle cell disease.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / complications
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / diagnosis
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / therapy*
  • Female
  • Fertility Preservation / adverse effects
  • Fertility Preservation / methods*
  • Humans
  • Infertility, Female / diagnosis
  • Infertility, Female / etiology
  • Infertility, Female / therapy*
  • Oocyte Retrieval / adverse effects
  • Oocyte Retrieval / methods
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Young Adult