Cancer treatments can cause hormonal balances and functional changes to reproductive organs, such as ovarian function and abnormal semen parameters.
Thus, infertility is a risk. It’s for this reason, that if you’re of child- bearing age or still in the process of starting or completing your family that you consult a reproductive medicine specialist before starting cancer treatment. Fertility preservation in childhood cancer patients is especially important and also needs to be discussed.
Once diagnosed, your oncologist should discuss the risk of infertility caused by your treatment and if you would like to opt for fertility preservation. If you do, they would refer you to a reproductive medicine specialist. If they don’t and this is an area of concern, please ask your oncologist for a referral. There are very few cancers that treatment needs to be started the very next day and most reproductive medicine specialists will be willing to see you as soon as possible to explore options so that your cancer treatment isn’t delayed unnecessarily.
There are several options for fertility preservation for both male and female patients. Male fertility preservation options include sperm banking; testicular sperm extraction; and testicular tissue banking, an option for boys who haven’t gone through puberty yet. Female fertility preservation options include embryo and egg freezing, which is the most common; oophoropexy (a procedure that moves the ovaries out of the soon-to-be radiated area); ovarian shielding; hormone suppression; and ovarian tissue freezing which is an option for girls who haven’t gone through puberty yet. Your reproductive medicine specialist will discuss the best option for you.
Fertility preservation is a safe-guarding option to help cancer patients complete their families after cancer treatment.
Understanding there are fertility preservation options available and seeing a reproductive specialist in a timely manner can improve your chances of successful preservation.
To find a fertility clinic go to oncofertility.msu.edu
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