Fertility Preservation and Chemotherapy

Should You Seek Fertility Treatment If You’re Getting Chemotherapy?

Going through any medical ailment is always difficult and scary, but facing chemotherapy brings on a whole other level of anxiety for anyone braving the fight against cancer. Add the worry about getting pregnant after chemotherapy treatment and the concerns seem to snowball out of control. 

Before you let your mind spiral, know that if you are facing chemotherapy treatment and also want to have your own biological children someday, science is on your side. Thousands of doctors have worked hard to give you options to still have a baby even if you’ve gone through chemotherapy. 

There are ways to preserve your fertility so that chemotherapy does not permanently alter your bigger life plans. You can still have a family, heal, and move forward in life with the help of compassionate, dedicated fertility professionals who care deeply about your dreams of building your future family. 

Both women and men going through chemo have fertility preservation options available to them, and at Fertility Finders we are always here to help you gain access to the information and resources you may need to ensure you have the freedom to have a baby no matter what life might throw at you. 

So how does chemotherapy affect fertility health? And what are these fertility preservation options for people going through chemotherapy?

Chemotherapy Impacts on Male Fertility

Chemotherapy is an effective treatment for cancer as it targets rapidly dividing cells. For cancerous cells that are quickly multiplying, this kind of targeted attack is one of the best methods to stop them in their tracks or rapidly slow their growth. 

Unfortunately for men going through chemotherapy who are worried about their fertility health, the treatment helping to control cancer also can hurt their fertility. 

Sperm cells are also rapidly dividing cells, and as a result of chemotherapy the integrity of sperm health may be compromised during and sometimes after treatment. 

Side effects of chemotherapy for male fertility have been shown to lower sperm counts, reduce testosterone levels, and even damage sperm and the cells that create healthy sperm. 

This is not an immediate cause for alarm. Our bodies are resilient, and plenty of men experience no effect to their fertility health during chemotherapy treatment, while others find that their fertility health is able to recover over time after their chemo treatment has stopped. But some may experience long term damage negatively impacting their fertility, especially those who are already predisposed to fertility health issues.

Chemotherapy Impacts on Female Fertility

For women who are going through chemotherapy treatment it’s been found that oocytes, which are immature undeveloped eggs, are usually negatively affected by this treatment. 

During chemotherapy, oocytes may have difficulty developing or maturing properly, leading to difficulties or very low chances of getting pregnant during the time that they are affected. 

Like with rapidly dividing sperm cells, rapidly dividing cells in the ovaries that prepare the uterus for pregnancy may also be targeted unintentionally by chemotherapy. Hormone levels can also be impacted, and some women have experienced early menopause after going through chemo treatment. 

Both men and women may experience fertility issues from the side effects of additional drugs taken alongside chemotherapy. 

These drugs can pose significant risk to long term fertility health. For some, increased chance of birth defects, sperm or egg related issues, and infertility are cause enough for concern and a reason to look into fertility preservation options.

Fertility Preservation Options For Men

Men have the options of storing their sperm at sperm banks or a selected fertility clinic that offers sperm preservation prior to their chemotherapy treatment. Pursuing this route gives men peace of mind in case anything does happen to their fertility health after or during chemotherapy. 

To preserve your sperm you may need a referral to a reproductive urologist or fertility specialist doctor. This expert will confirm sperm count and health to properly prepare the best course of family planning along with their patients. 

A range of options are available for the collection and preservation of sperm, including long term and short term storage, financing options, and even fertility insurance plans that may also cover a portion of the price. Once it is time to build a family, frozen sperm can be used either in IUI or IVF. A doctor will help determine which is the most optimal course to successfully achieve pregnancy.

Fertility Preservation Options for Women

Preserving fertility for women is a bit more in depth than it is for men. Egg freezing provides the highest likelihood of future success for those going through chemotherapy radiation and treatment. 

Even if a woman’s reproductive organs are damaged during the chemotherapy process, having her healthy eggs frozen still ensures she has the option to have a biological child by utilizing a surrogate to achieve pregnancy. 

Another option is embryo freezing. Some couples prefer this choice, as they are able to screen for any genetic diseases and ensure they have healthy embryos stored before going through chemo. This can provide peace of mind about building a future family during an already difficult and stressful time. 

The embryo freezing process uses extracted eggs and then fertilizes them with the sperm of a partner or donor either through ICSI, or by surrounding an egg with a sperm sample in a more “traditional” fashion. 

Once the egg is fertilized it is incubated in the lab for several days until it becomes a healthy embryo. Usually several embryos are nurtured and frozen to provide the highest likelihood of successful pregnancy once a couple does decide to conceive. The embryo is then frozen and stored until the couple or individual is ready to begin the process of starting their family and getting pregnant. 

Because egg and embryo freezing for women is a longer process than fertility preservation for men, it is recommended that women who are seeking it out due to medical concerns do not wait so they can begin to prioritize their medical treatment after fertility preservation as soon as possible.

We’re In Your Corner

If you are wondering about your fertility health and chemotherapy treatment, Fertility Finders can help you find the right course of action to help give your future family security. 

Whether you are just curious about your options, or are ready to jumpstart the fertility preservation process, we’ll make sure you don’t waste a second of your valuable time during your fertility preservation journey.

We offer comprehensive and competitive options to help you select the best clinic to work with, ensuring you have access to only the highest quality of care and aren’t left wasting precious weeks or even months shopping around for the right clinic. 

With our fertility financing and fertility insurance guidance you can rest easy knowing you have access to the care you need without finances standing in the way. Contact us today to speak with our fertility specialist counselors and discover how we can help you on your fertility preservation journey.

Fibroids and infertility with Reproductive and Infertility Specialist Dr. Tiffany Jones.

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