How to Preserve Fertility During Cancer Treatment
Protect from the Effects of Cancer Therapy
Published December 2014
The effects of cancer treatment on fertility vary between men and women, as do the potential methods of preservation. Certain forms of cancer treatment offer protective options and many doctors may also recommend freezing sperm, eggs or embryos. Depending on the size and location of radiation, the dose, and the drug involved, fertility loss may be temporary or permanent and can occur immediately or after treatment.
Men can preserve fertility with gonadal shielding to protect sperm quantity, quality and DNA from chemotherapy. Freezing sperm with cryopreservation is another protective strategy recommended when cancer treatment involves the surgical removal of the testicles.
Women can opt for gonadal shielding to preserve their eggs. However, chemotherapy and radiation may also damage hormone levels or the functioning of the ovaries, uterus and cervix and in some cases induce premature menopause. As a result of these risks, cryopreservation of eggs or fertilized embryos is a common choice, especially when treatment involves the surgical removal of the uterus or ovaries.
Ovarian transposition involves the surgical repositioning of your ovaries before treatment. It is recommended if you are treated with radiation but not chemotherapy. A radical trachelectomy, the surgical removal of the cervix, is an option for early-stage cervical cancer as well.