Some cancer treatments can impact ovary function, making it difficult to become pregnant. Through in vitro fertilization (IVF), it may be possible for women facing fertility issues to successfully conceive. At the Centre for Reproductive Medicine, fertility specialist Dr. Janelle Dorsett works closely with couples to provide fertility treatment options to greatly improve their chances of conceiving. If you would like to find out if IVF after cancer treatment is right for you, please contact our Lubbock, TX office today.
How Does Cancer Treatment Affect Fertility?
Cancer treatments, specifically radiation therapy and chemotherapy, are designed to kill cancer cells and stop them from growing by disrupting the cell division process. While these treatments are often lifesaving, they can impact the reproductive organs, making it difficult to conceive.
Chemotherapy in particular can decrease a woman's ovarian reserve. The ovarian reserve is the number of eggs a woman is born with. As a woman ages, she is naturally left with fewer and fewer eggs. However, after undergoing chemotherapy, a woman's ovarian reserve may be drastically lowered. This can make it difficult to become pregnant or even lead to early menopause.
In other cases, surgery may be necessary to remove cancerous tissues from the reproductive organs. This can damage the reproductive organs and lead to fertility issues.
Protecting Fertility during Cancer Treatment
Those who are faced with a cancer diagnosis but dream of one day having a child may take steps during cancer treatment to help protect fertility. Collecting eggs and freezing them prior to treatment can help make it possible for IVF and pregnancy after cancer treatment. Other options include freezing sperm and embryos for future implantation.
IVF after Cancer Treatment
In vitro fertilization can help those who are faced with a low ovarian reserve after cancer treatment increase the chances of becoming pregnant. IVF achieves this through the use of fertility drugs that stimulate the ovaries to release multiple eggs. The eggs are then collected and fertilized with sperm from a woman's partner or donor. Fertilized eggs develop into embryos, which may be implanted into a woman's uterus. When successful, this will result in pregnancy.
Female cancer patients often have the greatest success when eggs are harvested through IVF prior to undergoing cancer treatment. Harvested eggs may be frozen for use after cancer treatment is complete and the risk of remission has passed. Some may prefer to have their eggs fertilized so that their embryos may be frozen for use once given a clear bill of health from their oncologist.
For women who are not able to carry a child after cancer treatment, IVF and surrogacy may be a viable option. In such circumstances, eggs or embryos frozen prior to cancer treatment may be placed in another woman.
Learn More about Fertility Treatments
It is important to meet with a fertility specialist at the first stages of a cancer diagnosis to determine the best course of action for preserving fertility and increasing the chances of conceiving after cancer treatment. During consultations, our fertility treatment and reproductive medicine specialists will review your unique fertility issues to determine which treatment will most likely lead to pregnancy. To schedule your personal consultation, we welcome you to contact our team today.