The success of cancer treatments and survival rates continue to rise, allowing more and more people to live long, active lives. The side effects of some treatments for cancer and other serious illnesses can include damage to, or loss of, fertility. Fortunately, advances in reproductive sciences have also advanced, giving us many options that can help preserve your fertility and allow you to have a family once you are well.
Fertility Preservation Options for Women After Cancer
We currently have several options to preserve fertility for both women and men. The choice of which option is best for you depends on age, type of cancer and treatment, overall health, and your willingness to use donor eggs or sperm. The most commonly used preservation options with successful published results are embryo freezing, egg freezing, and sperm banking. Our physicians and nurses will assist you and your oncologist in deciding which options are best for you prior to chemotherapy or radiation. Below we outline some of the options that may be available to you, depending on your unique needs.
This technique has proven success and takes anywhere from two to six weeks to complete. A woman’s ovaries are first stimulated to mature multiple eggs, which are then removed and fertilized through In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) with sperm to create embryos. The embryos are then vitrified (rapidly frozen) for future use. This is a good option for women in a committed relationship with a male partner.
This new technology is showing good results. It also takes two to six weeks to complete. During egg freezing, eggs are retrieved from the ovaries, vitrified (rapidly frozen) in a cryoprotective solution, and stored for future use. When couples wish to become pregnant, the eggs are thawed and fertilized to produce embryos, which are transferred into the uterus. This is a good option for single women who do not have a male partner and do not want to create an embryo with donor sperm.
Donor Eggs and Donor Embryos
These two techniques are performed after cancer treatments are completed. They use eggs or embryos from healthy donors to initiate a pregnancy. Donor eggs can be fertilized with a partner’s or a donor’s sperm to create embryos that are transferred back into the woman or a gestational surrogate through IVF. In embryo donation, pregnancy may be achieved with the help of couples who have completed their families through IVF, and have additional but unneeded embryos they are willing to share.
Fertility Preservation Options for Men After Cancer
Sperm Banking (Men)
This technique has proven success. Semen is collected, analyzed, cryopreserved and stored for future use.
Through the generosity of the Mobile Infirmary Foundation, financial help is available for a limited number of cancer patients with financial need. The foundation provides a grant for a limited number of patients that can cover much of the cost of removing and freezing eggs and storing them for up to six months.
Many families have insurance coverage that can help with the costs of infertility treatment. Our financial specialists will work with you to help you maximize your insurance coverage and assist you in choosing the financial plans that are best for your situation.
We understand that time is of utmost importance when scheduling fertility preservation appointments. When scheduling, please call 251-438-4200 and mention the urgent nature so we can see you within a day or two or request an appointment.