Patients undergoing cancer treatments may have an increased chance of infertility. This can be especially difficult for those who are younger and have not had the chance to start a family but would like to in the future. While it is a very difficult process to go through, there are some measures you can take to help improve your chances of conception after undergoing cancer treatments.
First, consult with your oncologist and a fertility specialist to discuss options to help preserve fertility before treatments. Chemotherapy can have a negative effect on fertility. Certain drugs may prematurely decrease the number of eggs and sperm available or may increase the chance of miscarriage. In other cases, although the medications may not negatively impact fertility, the waiting time required before getting pregnant may be detrimental.
Radiation that is directed in the pelvis or abdomen can also have similar effects as chemotherapy. The ovaries absorb the radiation even if it is not specifically aimed at them. If the radiation is not directed at the abdomen or pelvis, you should wear protective screens to help minimize exposure. You can also have your ovaries surgically moved to help minimize harmful effects of radiation.
One option to preserve fertility before the start of cancer treatments is to freeze your eggs, sperms or embryos. Embryo freezing can ensure that you will have a healthy supply after cancer treatments and can be implanted in the uterus via in vitro fertilization. If you are not in a committed relationship at the time of diagnosis, you can choose to freeze just your eggs or sperm, which could be used for in vitro fertilization at a later time with your partner or with the help of a donor.
After cancer treatments, it is often advised that you do not try to get pregnant for at least a year or longer. It often takes 6-18 months after completing cancer treatment for the hormonal systems controlling sperm and egg release to be fully functional again. You should consult with an oncologist and fertility specialist to have your eggs and sperm examined, and to ensure you will be healthy enough to undergo fertility treatments.
If you are undergoing cancer treatments, it is important to know your options as soon as possible before beginning treatments. Contact The Fertility Center of Las Vegas to schedule a consultation or to attend a patient education seminar.