How will chemotherapy or radiation therapy affect my fertility?

By editor Updated on

If you’ve been diagnosed with cancer at an early age, then one of your first concerns may be your fertility. Although not everyone wants to have children, most people at least want to have the option. The good news is that, in most cases, women facing cancer can still become parents.

How will cancer treatment affect my fertility?

The effect of treatment for cancer depends on the type of treatment you receive. Effects also hinge on other factors, such as your genetics, age, gender, kind of cancer, where it is located, and your response to treatment. Keep in mind that your options will be much more limited after treatment than before, which is why it is so important to schedule a consultation with a reproductive endocrinologist right away.

The two most frequently used cancer treatments and their effects on fertility are:

1. Chemotherapy – drugs used during chemotherapy can damage eggs stored in the ovaries or the ovaries themselves, depending on the type and dose of chemo. Drugs that are most likely to cause infertility are the alkylating drugs and nitrosoureas. The younger you are treated the better your chances of getting pregnant after chemo.

2. Radiation therapy – uses high-energy rays to kill cancer cells. These rays can damage a woman’s ovaries and the eggs she carries. Radiation to the uterus can cause scarring, which restricts flexibility and blood flow to the uterus. This makes it difficult for the uterus to expand during pregnancy, increasing the risk of miscarriage and premature birth.
What can I do to preserve my fertility?

These options should be carefully discussed with your doctor before you begin treatment for cancer. You should be aware of any and all risks as well as the fact that no method is guaranteed to work. When making a decision to preserve your fertility, you may want to include your spouse/partner in the discussion. When facing cancer, a woman’s parenthood options include:
1. Embryo Freezing
2. Egg (Oocyte) Freezing
3. Ovarian Tissue Freezing
4. Ovarian Transposition
5. Radical Trachelectomy
6. Ovarian Suppression
7. Donor embryos/eggs
8. Surrogacy
9. Adoption

Female parenthood options chart
Fertile Hope

NOTE: At CNY Fertility Center we understand the emotional impact of being diagnosed with cancer, as well as the added concerns about your future family building efforts. We are here to assist you and will see clients diagnosed with cancer on very short notice. Whether your insurance covers fertility preservation costs or not, we will help you find a way to cover the costs. Call us today at 800-539-9870 or fill out our consultation request form here.