If you are diagnosed with cancer, you may need to make decisions about your fertility sooner than you had planned. Cancer and some types of treatment can damage sperm in men and eggs in women, and sometimes, the reproductive system. It is important to know your options to preserve your fertility before you begin treatment.
Fertility Preservation after Cancer
Some physicians suggest fertility preservation for young female and male cancer patients (under 39) who are of childbearing age and think they may want children in the future, or older men who still may want their fertility.
When someone is diagnosed with cancer, there are so many decisions to be made all at once, which can be overwhelming. With women and men now waiting later in life to have children, the chance of developing cancer during the childbearing years is increasing.
Key considerations for fertility preservation are:
- Age at diagnosis
- Cancer diagnosis
- Type of cancer treatment
- Whether the cancer has spread to reproductive areas
- The timeline for fertility preservation
Many patients are concerned about fertility preservation because it may cause a time delay in starting treatment. However, through recent advancements, the time it takes to preserve fertility is now much shorter than it was previously.
So, why is fertility preservation important even if the cancer is not near reproductive organs?
Cancer survivors may face infertility issues or pregnancy complications due to their cancer treatment. Once eggs or sperm are exposed to chemotherapy or radiation, it becomes difficult to test whether they have been affected by the treatment. If you think you might want to start a family, or add to your current family in the future, ask for a referral to a fertility expert who specializes in oncofertility.