What Every Cancer Patient Should Know About Fertility Preservation

If you or your partner has recently received a cancer diagnosis, future child-bearing is typically low on the list of priorities. However, both cancer and the treatment for it often completely obliterate any chance of conception later on in life. 

So, suppose you’d like to be able to at least entertain the possibility of expanding your family one day. In that case, you need to think about fertility preservation before you start any type of cancer treatment. Fertility preservation refers to the practice of saving or protecting eggs, sperm, and other reproductive tissues to provide the chance of getting pregnant in the future. 

At the Center for Human Reproduction located on the Upper East Side of New York, New York, infertility specialists Norbert Gleicher, MD, FACOG, FACS, and David Barad, MD, MS, FACOG, along with the rest of our team offer fertility preservation services

Let’s take a look at not only why fertility preservation is so important but also examine the different types of preservation services we offer.

How cancer affects your fertility

The likelihood of cancer and cancer treatments causing infertility depends greatly on the type of cancer you have, your age, and the type of cancer treatment you need. 

For instance, studies have shown that older women are more likely to experience infertility after going through cancer treatment. In addition, certain types of cancer such as Hodgkin’s lymphoma and prostate cancer raise your risk of future issues with fertility. 

Some cancers such as cervical cancer or testicular cancer require the removal of reproductive organs or radiation to your pelvic area, which can destroy sperm and eggs. Even some chemotherapies can cause women to temporarily or permanently lose their periods, causing damage to the ovaries in women and to the sperm in men.

Fertility preservation for women  

No matter if you have uterine cancer, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, colon cancer, or other cancers that can often lead to fertility issues, here are some of the options we offer for fertility preservation:

Embryo cryopreservation

During embryo cryopreservation, we harvest, fertilize, and then freeze your eggs to be used at a later time. Embryos typically have a 90% chance of surviving the freezing and thawing process, which is usually the most successful method for fertility preservation.

Egg freezing (oocyte cryopreservation)

This process is very similar to embryo cryopreservation; however, your eggs are simply frozen before they’re fertilized. While still effective, egg freezing may not work quite as well as embryo cryopreservation. 

Ovarian tissue freezing

Ovarian tissue freezing is still an experimental treatment. During this procedure, we remove portions of your ovaries before you start cancer treatment. Once the treatment is finished, we thaw the ovarian tissue and put it back in place.

Fertility preservation for men

If you have colon cancer, prostate cancer, testicular cancer, or any other type of cancer that may cause infertility, your fertility preservation options include: 

Sperm freezing (sperm cryopreservation)

Collecting and freezing sperm is an incredibly effective way to save high-quality sperm for use after you complete cancer treatment. The frozen sperm can be used to conceive through intrauterine insemination (IUI) or in vitro fertilization (IVF). 

Radiation shielding 

If you need radiation as part of your cancer treatment, we can place lead shields over your testicles to minimize damage to your sperm. 

To learn more about fertility preservation or any of our other fertility services, schedule an appointment by calling our office or booking online today.

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