27 de December, 2023

Preserving fertility during oncological treatment

Oncology treatments, although vital, can have a significant impact on fertility, both temporarily and permanently. Fertility refers to the ability to become pregnant, while infertility is the inability to conceive or carry a pregnancy to term.

Before starting cancer treatment, it is crucial to talk with your medical team about how it could affect your fertility and explore the options available to preserve it.

Impact of Cancer Treatments on Fertility

Fertility can be affected by cancer treatments in two main ways:

  • Damage to reproductive organs: Treatments can affect organs such as the ovaries, fallopian tubes, uterus, and cervix.
  • Damage to the organs that produce hormones: The ovaries, responsible for storing and releasing eggs, may be affected, which would decrease the ovarian reserve (total number of immature eggs).

Cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy can have side effects that impact fertility. Some specific drugs known to affect fertility include busulfan, carmustine, chlorambucil, and cyclophosphamide, among others.

How to Find Help for Fertility Problems

If you or your partner are facing fertility problems due to cancer, it is necessary to consider consulting an endocrinologist specializing in reproduction. These professionals can help you or help you overcome cancer-related fertility challenges.

Post-Treatment Evaluation

It is important to understand that post-treatment menstruation does not guarantee fertility. In some cases, the treatments can induce early menopause and cause permanent infertility. However, some women may experience a return of their menstrual cycles after treatment, although this does not mean that fertility is completely restored.

Age, type, and treatment dose are some factors that influence the return of menstruation and the probability of recovering fertility.

Options to Preserve Fertility in Women

There are various techniques to preserve fertility before cancer treatment:

  1. Embryo freezing: It is considered the most successful method. It involves the extraction of eggs, their fertilization in the laboratory, and the subsequent freezing of the embryos.
  2. Egg freezing: Similar to the previous process, the eggs are frozen without fertilizing.
  3. Surgeries to preserve fertility: In some cases of cervical or ovarian cancer, surgeries can be performed to preserve the woman's reproductive capacity.
  4. Ovarian protective radiation therapy: Some women may receive radiation to only one ovary to preserve fertility.
  5. Ovarian suppression: An experimental approach that suppresses ovarian function during treatment.
  6. Preservation of ovarian tissue: Experimental technique that involves extracting and freezing ovarian tissue for later use.

Pregnancies After Cancer Treatment

To conceive naturally, it is necessary to have at least one healthy ovary, a healthy fallopian tube, a uterus in optimal condition, and adequate levels of specific hormones. However, it may be recommended to wait a while before trying to conceive, depending on several factors such as the type of cancer, treatment received, and age.

If you are facing a delay in conceiving, consider fertility preservation options before starting your cancer treatment. At Ingenes, we are committed to providing you with the best care and advice on your path to motherhood, even in the face of challenges such as cancer. Our team is here to support you every step of your journey, offering you the most suitable options to preserve your ability to conceive and have a baby at home.

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