Fertility Preservation after Cancer Diagnosis
Patients who receive a cancer diagnosis face a multitude of challenges and questions, including whether to preserve their fertility and what treatment options are available. In many cases, cancer itself doesn’t affect fertility, but cancer treatments—such as chemotherapy, surgery, or radiation—can interfere with the reproductive process and impact your ability to conceive. In such an uncertain time, it’s important for patients to understand that cancer does not need to prevent you from building your future family.
If you’re concerned that your cancer treatment may affect your fertility, you have options. The best way to ensure future fertility is fertility preservation (freezing eggs, embryos, or sperm for later use).
Cancer treatment can affect your fertility, so it’s important to learn about fertility preservation before you begin treatment to understand your options.
HOW DOES CANCER AFFECT FERTILITY?
Cancer treatments can impact fertility in different ways, depending on the type of treatment. For female patients, some chemotherapy medications can age the ovaries, while others can damage the eggs. The high energy rays of radiation can also damage the ovaries or cause scarring that can make it difficult to conceive. Radiation to the brain can also affect the pituitary gland, which controls the release of the hormones most closely linked to fertility. Surgical treatment, including hysterectomy (uterus removal) and oophorectomy (ovary removal), impacts a woman’s ability to conceive and carry a child. Immune therapies have also been found to negatively impact fertility.
For male patients, surgeries—such as treatments for testicular, prostate, or bladder cancers—as well as radiation treatments and chemotherapies, can impair the ability to produce healthy semen for fertilization or impact male reproductive functioning in other ways.
HOPE AND HELP FOR FERTILITY PRESERVATION AT VIOS
At Vios Fertility Institute, we understand the difficulties and challenges patients encounter throughout the cancer diagnosis and treatment process. If you or someone you know has recently been diagnosed with cancer and has any desire to have a child or children in the future, it’s important to meet with a fertility specialist before cancer treatment. At your consultation, you are under no obligation to pursue any kind of fertility preservation treatment, but our expert team can empower you with information so that you can understand your options and make the best choice for you.
MAKE AN APPOINTMENT
Contact us to begin your personalized care at one of our convenient locations:
- Chicago, West Loop
- Chicago, Wicker Park
- Aurora, IL
- Glenview, IL
- Hoffman Estates, IL
- Swansea, IL
- Milwaukee, WI
- St Louis, MO
- O’Fallon, MO
VIOS QUICK START CANCER FERTILITY PRESERVATION
At Vios, oncofertility patients are a top priority and we will ensure any cancer patient can get in to see a Vios provider within 24-48 hours. If you opt to pursue treatment following the initial consultation, we can usually begin the process of growing eggs to freeze or fertilize within 1-2 days and complete the process in as little as 2 weeks. The timeline for male patients is usually more straightforward, and we will help you quickly make an appointment for sperm banking (semen cryopreservation). We understand the importance of moving forward with cancer treatment as quickly as possible, so we do everything in our power to minimize any delays to treatment.
THE FERTILITY PRESERVATION PROCESS
If you elect to pursue fertility preservation, our Vios fertility specialists will work with you and your oncologist to consider the type of cancer you have, your treatment plan, and the amount of time you have before cancer treatment begins so that we can help guide you through your options and quickly begin your treatment.
Egg and Embryo Preservation
For female patients, preserving fertility for the future involves freezing either eggs or embryos for later use in a treatment process called in vitro fertilization (IVF). Because a woman’s natural monthly cycle typically produces a single egg, patients usually begin an IVF cycle by receiving medication to stimulate the ovaries in order to increase the number of eggs produced. It takes about 2 weeks for the eggs to develop before they are ready to be retrieved for cryopreservation (freezing).
Eggs can be frozen within hours of the retrieval. To create embryos, our expert embryologists attempt to fertilize the eggs with sperm from your partner or a donor. We will know how many eggs fertilized the day after the retrieval. The development of these embryos will then be closely monitored for up to 7 days to see how many reach the blastocyst stage, at which they may be frozen..
Freezing embryos is generally recommended if there is a sperm source available, since it gives you the best chance at a future pregnancy, but your Vios fertility specialist will work with you to determine which option is best for you.
For male oncofertility patients, we can schedule your appointment for sperm banking (or semen cryopreservation) within 1-2 days of your initial consultation. Your specimen will either be collected at home or in a private room at one of our convenient locations and stored for testing (semen analysis) and freezing.
MANAGING COSTS OF FERTILITY PRESERVATION
For many seeking infertility treatment, there is time to save and plan how to pay for the treatment, but this is not usually the case for cancer patients. Moving forward with fertility preservation usually requires rapid action so that cancer treatment is not delayed. At Vios, we believe that cost should never be the reason someone chooses not to pursue fertility preservation, and there are many programs available to help with finances. In some states, coverage for fertility preservation due to a cancer diagnosis is mandated. Our financial team will work with patients to understand their insurance options, take advantage of our Vios discount programs, develop payment plans, and assess loan options to help make treatment possible.