Starting a Family After a Cancer Diagnosis? Fertility Preservation Gives Patients Hope
Chemotherapy and radiation can affect the fertility of both female and male patients. The severity depends on the type and length of treatment, pre-existing fertility issues, and the age of the patient. This should be discussed with the oncologist . It’s important to consider taking steps to preserve your chances of starting a family.
There are several options available for patients to consider before beginning the treatment process:
Female Fertility Preservation Embryo cryopreservation:
- This is the process of collecting a woman’s eggs, freezing the eggs, and freezing the embryos.
- Oocyte (egg) cryopreservation: This is the process of collecting and freezing unfertilized eggs.
- Oophoropexy (ovarian transposition): Ovarian transposition is a process in which the ovaries are surgically moved to another part of the body, where radiation therapy will not interfere or come in contact with the organ.
- Ovarian suppression – Medications can be given to quiet the ovary in the hope that eggs will be better preserved for later use.
Male Fertility Preservation:
- Sperm cryopreservation: This is an extremely effective means of male fertility preservation that includes freezing and storing sperm.
Teens with Cancer:
- Oocyte cryopreservation for female teens and sperm cryopreservation for male teens are the standard means of preserving fertility for teens who have gone through puberty.
Children with Cancer:
- Limited fertility preservation options may be available for children, who have not reached puberty.
If you (or someone you know) has been diagnosed with cancer, making a decision about fertility preservation may be a difficult thing to consider. Although not all cancer diagnosis and treatment plans mean that fertility will be compromised, it is important to discuss the risk with your doctor and come up with a plan to preserve your fertility before you begin treatment.
Want to discuss options further? Contact us today. We’re here to help.
WENDY SCHILLIGNS, MD, FACOG
Dr. Schillings is a board certified reproductive endocrinologist, obstetrician and gynecologist. She leads all aspects of patient care at RMAPA. In addition, she formerly led the medical team at RE & I Specialist with the Lehigh Valley Physician Group. Dr. Schillings is chief of the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at Lehigh Valley Hospital Health Network and Clinical Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Penn State College of Medicine.