Your reproductive health may not be the first thing that comes to mind when receiving a cancer diagnosis, but it’s an important aspect of your health to consider before undergoing treatment.
Cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy or radiation, can negatively affect your fertility in several ways, but you can consider fertility preservation ahead of treatment in many cases.
Here at Nova IVF, we know that time is of the essence for those needing to start cancer treatment due to a recent diagnosis. If you are considering fertility preservation options before cancer treatment, we invite you to set up your initial consultation with one of our doctors to discuss your options. Our team will help schedule you as quickly as possible to help you make these important decisions.
How Cancer Treatment Impacts Fertility:
Some chemotherapy medications can dramatically reduce the eggs or sperm, thus reducing fertility health and the possibility of a healthy pregnancy in the future. The effects may be temporary for some, while others may never produce healthy eggs or sperm again after using these medications.
The impact on your fertility from chemotherapy medications often is dependent on the types of medication, the doses given, and the age of the patient at the time of treatment. Older patients, especially women, have a greater risk of damage to eggs that could render a patient infertile post-treatment.
Radiation therapy in the pelvic or abdomen can also destroy eggs, similar to chemotherapy treatment. Radiation can also potentially damage reproductive organs and cause fibrosis or scarring that can impact women's chances of conceiving or carrying a baby in the future.
For those undergoing brain radiation therapy, there can also be damage to the pituitary gland. This gland releases important hormones associated with ovulation, and it’s possible to require medications down the road to conceive if damage does occur, preventing these naturally occurring hormones from being produced in the body.
Various factors can negatively impact fertility while undergoing cancer treatments, so it’s important to seek out a reproductive endocrinologist once treatment is over to review the impact on fertility and what it means for your family planning needs.
Fertility Preservation Options:
For men undergoing cancer treatment, it's possible to freeze sperm before treatment to use for later in fertility treatment such as IUI or IVF. By freezing sperm, there is a great chance of having biological children in the future.
For women undergoing cancer treatment, there is the option to freeze eggs before treatment. Freezing eggs is a little more invasive than freezing sperm. It includes a short period of injectable medications (1-2 weeks) that stimulate your ovaries to produce multiple eggs. Once the eggs begin to mature, the patient will undergo a retrieval procedure where the doctor will harvest as many eggs as possible to freeze for the future.
Next Steps for Patients Diagnosed with Cancer:
For women or men recently diagnosed with cancer, we encourage you to call our clinic to set up an initial consultation to learn more about your fertility preservation options.
We know that time is of the essence and will get you in to see one of our doctors quickly (usually within days) to allow you the time to make an appropriate decision for your future fertility needs. We will work with your oncologist to ensure your treatment will not interfere with your cancer treatment.
During your consultation at Nova, we will help you determine the best course of action based on your timeline needs and future family-building goals. We also partner with foundations to apply for discounted/free medications and help you apply for reimbursements for any treatment-related costs with your primary insurance through the SB 600 California mandate.