Cancer and Fertility

Cancer treatments including chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery have the potential to negatively affect or even completely destroy a patient’s ability to have children later in life. Fertility preservation is an extremely important issue to consider after a diagnosis of cancer and before beginning treatment. With procedures currently performed at ICRM, we can quickly, easily, and with a high degree of care assist with preserving fertility when the devastating event of a cancer diagnosis happens.

Fertility Preservation for Men

Sperm banking is the most common and successful method of fertility preservation for males prior to cancer treatment. This is the process in which a semen sample (or multiple samples) are produced, frozen via cryopreservation, and then stored for future use. For males who do not bank sperm prior to treatment, there are still options for family building in the future. Using assisted reproductive technologies, donor sperm can be used to achieve pregnancy with a female partner, and adoption of a child or children is also an option.

Fertility Preservation for Women

Options for women include egg freezing, embryo freezing, and ovarian suppression therapy. In order to create the eggs and the eggs to be used in the creation of embryos, the ovaries are stimulated to mature as many eggs as possible with the use of fertility medications. The eggs are then extracted and either frozen as they are, or fertilized with a partner’s or donor sperm to create embryos that are then frozen. After cancer treatment, the eggs can be thawed and fertilized and transferred to the uterus; the embryos can simply be thawed and transferred. Ovarian suppression is used to cause the ovaries to temporarily shut down, essentially putting patients into a menopausal state during chemotherapy and/or radiation treatment. It is an experimental technique done through monthly injections.
If fertility preservation is not possible, there are several other options for starting or building a family. Anonymous ovum donors and gestational carriers are excellent options if the ability to produce eggs or to carry a pregnancy has been negatively affected by cancer treatment. Other options include embryo adoption at ICRM, or traditional adoption.

To assist our patients with fertility preservation prior to cancer treatment, ICRM offers a substantial reduction in our procedure fees. Please speak with our Financial Counselor for details.

Helpful Resources

Listen To Dr. Slater’s
Most Recent Podcast!

In the latest episode of the SART Fertility Experts podcast, Dr. Slater and Betsy Campbell from RESOLVE discuss current barriers to reproductive medicine and how advocacy efforts are expanding access to care.