As October is Cancer Awareness Month, we should discuss females who are undergoing chemotherapy and the need to be concerned about their fertility and making a Fertility Preservation plan. This is due to the fact that the medications and radiation treatments used for chemotherapy can destroy the eggs.
Highest risk for infertility after cancer
The age of the woman at the time of chemotherapy treatment can play a part in the risks of infertility. Although every woman is at risk, an older woman runs a higher risk of infertility after chemotherapy because she is already starting out with fewer eggs at the time of treatment than a younger woman. A woman who is close to menopause age at time of chemotherapy can actually enter menopause immediately following the treatments. This wreaks havoc on what is already a case for declining female fertility due to age.
A few other factors may come into play with chemotherapy and women’s fertility:
- The number of doses given
- The type of medication used
- The woman’s age at the time of her treatment
Fertility Preservation: What to do?
What can a woman do prior to beginning chemotherapy to try to preserve her fertility? While there are no guarantees that you will become infertile after chemotherapy, there are steps in Fertility Preservation that you can take as a precaution.
- You can have your eggs frozen for future use if needed.
- You can do ovarian tissue freezing or ovarian suppression.
- Then there is ovarian transposition.
Or you can seek alternative treatments that are available for some gynecological cancers if they are caught in early stages.
Discuss your options with your fertility specialist to see what options you can explore in fertility treatments in the event that you have to undergo chemotherapy for a cancer diagnosis. Embryo adoption is also an option that may be considered if there are no viable options with Fertility Preservation.
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