Q&A: How will chemotherapy affect my fertility?
How will undergoing chemotherapy affect my ability to get pregnant in the future? What are my options to ensure future fertility?
The prospect of undergoing chemotherapy can be overwhelming and scary all by itself. Having to worry about your future fertility can add another whole layer of concern to the scenario. Most types of chemotherapy will induce early menopause, which may be temporary or permanent. The good news is that there are some procedures that can offer hope to women who may need chemotherapy and/or radiation to treat various forms of cancer.
According to FertileHope.org, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to education and support of cancer patients, there are a few factors that can influence possible future pregnancy:
- Age at diagnosis or treatment
- Pre-treatment fertility status
- Type and dose of chemotherapy
- Location and dose of radiation
- Surgical area
There are a few options that your doctor may discuss with you. Some of the options offered may include these:
- Retrieving and freezing your eggs for future use
- Retrieving your eggs for in vitro fertilization and subsequently freezing the resulting embryo for implantation after treatments have concluded
- Ovarian cryopreservation and grafting (removing ovarian tissue for freezing and possible implantation after treatments have concluded)
In some cases one or more methods may be utilized to offer more choices in case one technique does not prove successful. It is very important to ask lots of questions and schedule a consultation with a fertility specialist before chemotherapy or radiation treatments begin. You may want to consider talking to a few specialists to make sure you have all the information and options you need before making a decision.