Hearing you have cancer changes everything. It is critical to be informed of your reproductive risks, educated about your choices, and empowered to make decisions. Remember: treatments, answers and hope exist and begin with quality, timely information. Thinking about fertility now can help you make choices when you are ready. CCRM utilizes oncofertility technology to help women with fertility and cancer-related challenges. Oncofertility explores fertility options in light of cancer diagnosis, treatment and survival.
CANCER AND INFERTILITY
A very real and unfortunate side effect of cancer and cancer treatment is infertility. Various types of cancer and cancer treatments may have different effects on a woman’s fertility. Talk with your physician about the common side effects of your specific cancer type, as well as the effects of various treatments. Keep in mind that timing may play a crucial role in preserving fertility and that your doctor may recommend immediate action depending upon the severity of your diagnosis.
Cancer treatment with chemotherapy may affect fertility. The effects of chemotherapy for women depend on: age, drug type, drug quantity, and length of treatment.
Women who receive chemotherapy may have a change in their periods or menstrual cycles. Periods may become irregular, and flow may decrease or stop. Some women develop symptoms of menopause such as vaginal dryness and hot flashes. Younger women may have irregular periods during chemotherapy and may resume normal periods following treatment. Women who resume normal cycles after treatment may still be at risk for early menopause as their egg supply may have been damaged. Women over 40 are more likely to go into menopause immediately after treatment, which means they will never resume their cycle.
Radiation to the pelvis or area of the reproductive organs can damage or destroy reproductive tissues and cells. This damage may be permanent or just temporary. As with chemotherapy, hormones are sometimes given along with treatment to improve the chances of having children once treatment is complete. Again, the administration of hormones may have negative effects on certain kinds of cancer.
Some cancer surgeries may affect a woman’s ability to have a child. Speak with your physician about how a specific procedure may affect your fertility and ability to carry a baby.