Infertility is a common effect of cancer treatment and sometimes the cancer itself. Assisted reproductive technology makes it possible for cancer survivors to preserve their fertility prior to starting cancer treatment. This offers hope for individuals dealing with cancer to have children in the future.
If you're diagnosed with cancer and are concerned about your fertility, it's wise to discuss fertility preservation options. Here at Innovation Fertility Preservation and IVF, board-certified infertility specialist, Kutluk Oktay, MD, specializes in fertility preservation and is a pioneer in modern approaches to preserving fertility in individuals at risk of losing their fertility because of medical reasons, such as cancer.
How cancer treatment affects fertility
Treatment for cancer can affect your fertility in various ways. Certain types of chemotherapy medication may damage or destroy eggs, as well as reduce the overall number of viable eggs. This puts you at risk for infertility after treatment.
Keep in mind that your risk depends on the type of chemotherapy medication as well as the dose. Additional factors include your age at the time of treatment and current ovarian reserve. As women age, the number of eggs declines naturally. This means older women have fewer eggs.
Radiation is a common therapy used to treat cancer. Radiation to the abdomen or pelvis can compromise your fertility in a similar way to chemotherapy. Additionally, surgery that affects a part of the brain that regulates hormones can negatively impact your ability to become pregnant. Uterine or ovarian surgery can also cause infertility.
If you’re scheduled to begin chemotherapy, radiation, or another treatment for cancer, it's best to discuss your fertility preservation options prior to starting treatment.
Fertility preservation options
Today, women facing cancer have a number of available options that may preserve their fertility and increase the chances of having a child in the future.
Egg freezing involves removing mature eggs and storing them at very cold temperatures for use in the future. The process begins with an evaluation to determine your chances of success from freezing your eggs. If you decide to choose to freeze your eggs, Dr. Oktay will guide you through the process of stimulating your ovaries to produce multiple eggs.
This is done using daily hormone injections for about 10 days. After that, egg retrieval is performed as an outpatient procedure. Your provider will collect the eggs and freeze them for future use.
Ovarian tissue freezing
For women and girls who must start cancer treatment urgently, you may have the option to freeze your ovarian tissue to preserve your fertility. Ovarian tissue freezing involves removing and preserving ovarian tissue that holds your eggs and re-implanting the tissue into your body after you've completed your cancer treatment.
It may also be possible to stimulate the eggs in the laboratory so that they mature and can be fertilized to create embryos to transfer to your uterus. This is called in vitro maturation.
If you’re facing cancer treatment and have a desire to preserve your fertility, our compassionate and knowledgeable expert team is here to provide the support and guidance to help you make the best decision for you. To discuss your fertility preservation options, call 877-492-3666 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Oktay, or use our online booking form to send your request.