Are Their Special Fertility Programs For Cancer Patients

Cancer and its treatment can affect just about every aspect of health and the body, including the reproductive system. Because cancer treatment can lead to infertility, many people choose to undergo fertility preservation prior to the start of treatment. Below, we will take a look at the special fertility programs for cancer patients.

How Cancer Treatment Impacts Fertility

Chemotherapy and radiation therapy both have the potential to cause infertility. In addition, if the cancer is in part of the reproductive system, such as the testicles or cervix, infertility may occur. There is no guarantee that cancer treatment will cause infertility, but it is common – in fact, few young women with cancer go on to carry their own babies. Special fertility programs for cancer patients are helping to change this.

Special Fertility Treatments for Caner Patients

Sperm Cryopreservation

Men who are about to undergo cancer treatment have the option of freezing specimens of semen (known as sperm cryopreservation). Typically, the man masturbates to provide the samples, which are then frozen. Other collection options include testicular sperm extraction (if ejaculation is impaired) or having intercourse with a condom and collecting the sperm from the condom (if there is a religious objection to masturbation).

The sperm is frozen in the laboratory. When the man is ready to use it, it can be used in a variety of fertility treatments, including artificial insemination and IVF.

Egg Cryopreservation

Women have the option of freezing either eggs or embryos. If the woman is in a long-term relationship and the man is currently available to provide a sperm sample, it is usually best to do embryo cryopreservation. If the woman is not with a partner she would like to have children with, or if the man is not available to provide semen at the time, egg freezing may be the best choice.

During this procedure, fertility medications are used to induce the ovaries to produce more mature egg follicles than usual. The eggs are collected using a minimally invasive procedure, then frozen. When the woman is ready to use the eggs, they are thawed for use in IVF. Each egg is injected with sperm, producing embryos. The mature embryos are transferred to the woman’s uterus.

In most cases, it is preferable to stimulate the ovaries to produce eggs using fertility medication, then collect those eggs. In cases where the cancer is very aggressive and fast-growing, it may be necessary to begin treatment immediately, with no time to wait for a stimulation cycle. In such cases, the eggs may be collected while they are still immature, then matured in the lab using in vitro maturation (IVM). This can be performed for both egg cryopreservation and embryo cryopreservation. The woman must have a good supply of eggs to be a candidate for IVM; in most cases, this means that she should be relatively young.

Embryo Cryopreservation

For women, embryo cryopreservation is preferable for specialty fertility programs for cancer patients because embryos are more likely to survive the freezing and thawing process than eggs. Eggs are collected from the ovaries in the same procedure as for egg freezing, but are immediately cultured or injected with sperm from the male partner, creating embryos. After the embryos have matured for several days, the high-quality embryos can be frozen.

Once the woman is ready to get pregnant, the embryos are thawed. The woman’s uterus is prepared using fertility medication, and the embryos are transferred. If one or more embryos implant in the uterine lining, pregnancy occurs.

If you are interested in special fertility programs for cancer patients, Dr. Randy Morris would be happy to hear from you. To schedule your consultation today, please click below and enter your information or call (630) 357-6540.

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