We think of cancer as an “older person’s” disease. In fact, cancer can strike at any age, making it particularly painful if a cancer diagnosis and/or treatment threatens your future fertility.
Your cancer treatment and fertility risk depends on:
- Age and gender
- Pre-existing fertility issues or infertility diagnoses
- The type of cancer you have and/or the type of treatment required
We want to emphasize that fertility preservation is possible for children as well, so do make it a point to discuss fertility preservation with your child’s oncologist or a local fertility specialist if you have a child diagnosed with cancer.
Consider Fertility Preservation Options When Diagnosed with Cancer
There are multiple ways cancer can threaten your fertility options. Fortunately, modern innovations in both cancer research, as well as fertility treatments, make it possible for young women with cancer to look forward to having their own baby when the time is right.
Speak to your doctor as soon as possible if you want to have a baby
Your fertility could be affected by the very first cancer treatment you receive. For this reason, women planning to have children should discuss fertility options with their doctor as soon as possible after receiving a cancer diagnosis.
By bringing your future desires regarding pregnancy and parenting to the forefront, your doctor may be able to tailor treatment approaches to accommodate future fertility.
Ask for a referral to a fertility treatment specialist
It’s a good idea to ask your family physician or oncologist for a referral to a fertility treatment specialist. Just as your oncologist specializes in cancer and cancer treatments and are secondarily interested in fertility, a fertility treatment specialist is up-to-date on the latest fertility preservation methods for various cancers and their treatments.
The Most Common Fertility Preservation Methods For Women
If fertility preservation is an option for you, your doctor will probably recommend one of the following methods:
Selective treatment methods
If the cancer has flexible treatment options, fertility preservation may be as simple as selecting radiation technique, chemotherapy protocol and/or medication(s) less likely to threaten fertility.
These days, egg freezing is typically in the news due to women who put careers or education first and plan to get pregnant at a more advanced maternal age. The egg freezing process originated, however, as a fertility preservation solution for female cancer patients.
By freezing healthy eggs now, they are available for use via in-vitro fertilization (IVF) when you’re ready to become a parent. Depending on your situation, a fertility specialist may recommend freezing unfertilized or fertilized eggs.
Freezing ovarian tissue
Ovarian tissue cryopreservation is a technique wherein ovarian tissue is frozen and then thawed and replaced later on. It is still experimental but has been successful in dozens of cases now, and we anticipate this treatment becoming more successful with further research and innovation.
Used partially as a cancer treatment for certain types of breast cancer catalyzed by estrogen, ovarian suppression is also being used experimentally as a fertility preservation technique. The idea is that ceasing ovarian function during chemotherapy treatment can protect immature egg follicles. After treatment is complete the ovaries can function again.
Have you recently been diagnosed with cancer? Contact us here at Overlake to discuss your options and/or to be referred to a local fertility specialist who can work with us to protect and preserve your future fertility.