Portuguese Centre for Fertility Preservation
The Portuguese Centre for Fertility Preservation (in the Reproductive Department of the Coimbra Hospital and University Centre) is the only public centre of the country and it was created in 2010 to fulfill the reproductive needs of patients undergoing treatments possibly threatening to their reproductive function. In Portugal, the male fertility preservation is done since the 90’s in several public institutions. However, the female fertility preservation techniques weren’t available before in the Portuguese public practice. So it was clearly important to do something to try to assure the biological parenthood of the female patients too.
Since 2010, our main goal is to provide reproductive monitoring and counseling to male and female patients from every part of the country that are undergoing possibly gonadotoxic treatments. Through a multidisciplinary approach, we try to support the decision-making process of the patients about the preservation of their fertility and, whatever the decision made by the patient, we try to support their reproductive decisions after the end of the treatments, throughout annual follow-up consultations.
Although most of the cancer patients are referred to the Centre by their oncologists, it is important to note that a significant number of them asks for a consultation by their own. However, the opportunity to make a decision about fertility preservation is stated by all cancer patients as crucial, regardless they were referred by the oncologist or not. Patients tell us how important it is for them to receive information not only about the disease or the immediate effects of the treatments, but also about how to try to protect their parental project. This gives them hope, and some sense of control in a context of truly uncontrollability.
Therefore, another goal of our Centre is to try to better inform patients, health professionals and general population about the impact of cancer in fertility, the techniques of fertility preservation and how to reach our team. To achieve this goal we are working in several ways. Firstly, we have already developed some written information for the patients that are assisted in our Centre (and these patient fact sheets have been anonymously evaluated by the patients as very useful for their decision-making process). Secondly, some team members are developing research (with funding by the Portuguese League Against Cancer and Celgene® – ref. LPCC/Celgene2013 – and by the Foundation for Science and Technology – ref. SRFH/BD/84677/2012) to try to better understand the information needs and the attitudes of the cancer patients and the oncologists about fertility preservation. Thirdly, we have organized our first course about fertility preservation for health professionals in October 2013, in the 5th Portuguese Congress of Reproductive Medicine, with the paticipation of Professor Teresa Woodruff, Ph.D. Lastly, we are developing our own website with some information specifically designed to health professionals and other specific information to patients and public population.
Thus, the Portuguese translation of the SaveMyFertility application will help us achieving this goal. On one side, it will better support the information presented in our website and then it will help us informing the patients, health professionals and general population to get more information about this theme. On the other side, it will be important in our clinical practice, as we will explore the application with the patients at the decision-making process about fertility preservation and we will recommend them to consult it profoundly at home and come back to us for any doubt. This way, the patients are guided to have access to well done and organized information in a specific and recommended tool.
The team translated Repropedia, a reproductive lexicon, to Portuguese. Repropedia is a comprehensive, reproductive-focused online lexicon created to increase public literacy in the fields of reproductive health and science.
The Portuguese Centre for Fertility Preservation team is coordinated by Professor Teresa Almeida Santos, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Reproductive Department of Coimbra Hospital and University Centre and professor of the Faculty of Medicine of University of Coimbra. It is constituted by:
- Six doctors, full time members of Reproductive Department of Coimbra Hospital and University Centre;
- One doctor, full time member of Gynecology Service of Coimbra Hospital and University Centre;
- One biologist, full time member of Reproductive Department of Coimbra Hospital and University Centre;
- One psychologist, Ph.D. student from the Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences of University of Coimbra and member of the Unity of Psychology Intervention of the Maternity Dr. Daniel de Matos of Coimbra Hospital and University Centre;
- One pharmacist, Ph.D. student from the Faculty of Pharmacy of University of Coimbra.
- Not sex-specific