How Does Cancer Treatment Impact Fertility?

preserving fertilityWomen that are being treated for cancer may have questions about preserving their fertility if they haven’t had children yet or are planning to have children in the future. It is important to know how cancer treatment will affect fertility as well as preservation steps that can be done before starting cancer treatment.

The Effect of Cancer Treatment on Fertility

Some cancer treatments can cause harm to fertility and some can even cause an individual to become sterile. These effects could be temporary or permanent after treatment has been completed. There are several factors like the type of cancer and the age at the time of treatment that could possible harm fertility as a result of cancer treatment.

Males that have to have their testicles removed or have to have chemotherapy or radiation that effect the sperm quality or DNA will have their fertility harmed.

Removal of the ovaries or uterus or treatments that effect the eggs, hormone levels or ovary, uterus or cervix functions can harm fertility. As a woman ages the risk for premature menopause increase after having certain cancer treatments. Permanent ovary damage can occur in older women as well.

Talking to the doctor about fertility preservation

If you are to undergo cancer treatment it is best to talk to your doctor as soon as possible about your options for preserving fertility.

Preserving fertility for women

Here are a few examples of fertility preservation for women:

  • Embryo cryopreservation
  • Egg freezing (oocyte cryopreservation)
  • Gonadal shielding
  • Ovarian transposition (oophoropexy)
  • Radical trachelectomy

Other methods for female fertility preservation are still being researched.

Fertility preservation for men

Men can also preserve their fertility by doing one of the following:

  • Sperm cryopreservation
  • Gonadal shielding

The research on whether taking any steps for fertility preservation being able to have an effect on cancer treatment is still limited. Evidence that these current fertility preservation methods compromising the cancer treatment have not been found.

If you have to have a cancer treatment done on the heart, lungs or pelvic region you should consult your doctor prior to pregnancy and you should prepare yourself for the possibility of complications with the pregnancy.

It is recommended that you speak with your doctor about the best fertility preservation method for you prior to cancer treatment.



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