Cancer and Infertility
Cancer and cancer treatment can have a significant impact on your fertility. If you have been diagnosed with any type of cancer, the fertility specialists at Arizona Associates for Reproductive Health can help you understand the relationship between cancer and infertility. Our Scottsdale, AZ, team can work with your oncologist and other doctors to determine if fertility preservation or other treatments are right for you. To schedule a consultation, contact our office today.
How Cancer Affects Fertility
Cancer can cause both male and female factor infertility. Cancer can affect a patient's ability to produce quality eggs or sperm, and may also damage the reproductive organs, compromising a female's ability to carry a baby to term. The types of cancer that commonly cause direct fertility complications include:
- Testicular Cancer
- Ovarian Cancer
- Uterine Cancer
- Cervical Cancer
- Tubal Cancer
If you have developed cancer in other areas of your body, your oncologist and other doctors will try to prevent it from metastasizing, or spreading, to other organs. In many cases, cancer can be treated effectively before it spreads to your reproductive organs. It is important to keep in mind that even if cancer affects one of these organs, there are still several options available to grow your family.
How Cancer Treatments Affect Fertility
Regardless of where cancer occurs in the body, the treatments can cause the reproductive organs to fail or function irregularly, making conception and pregnancy difficult:
- Chemotherapy - Chemotherapy, or chemical therapy, attacks cancer cells using drugs. These drugs can reduce the number of sperm cells a male partner produces. They can also reduce a female's quantity and frequency of egg production. Chemotherapy sometimes results in early menopause or menopausal symptoms for female patients, which can compromise the ability to have intercourse, and temporarily stop ovulation.
- Radiation - Radiation therapy attacks cancer tissues using high-energy waves like X-rays and other forms of radiation. Unfortunately, radiation therapy often damages healthy tissues as well. If radiation is focused on or near the reproductive organs, it can result in reduced sperm and egg production.
- Surgery - Removal of the reproductive organs, including hysterectomy (removal of the uterus), oophorectomy (removal of the ovaries), or orchiectomy (removal of the testicles) can render patients completely infertile.
Fertility following Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment
If you or your partner has received a cancer diagnosis, and you are concerned about how the disease and its treatment will affect fertility, you should speak with our specialists as soon as possible. One of the most common fertility preservation treatments cancer patients undergo is the cryogenic freezing of eggs, sperm, or embryos before cancer treatment begins. In the future, these reproductive cells can be used in conjunction with intrauterine insemination (IUI) or in vitro fertilization (IVF), allowing a female partner or surrogate carrier to become pregnant.
Some patients delay cancer treatment to undergo IVF. The viability of this option depends heavily on your diagnosis, the treatment path you have chosen, and the advice of your oncologist.
We can also help patients who have completed cancer treatment. During a consultation, we can pinpoint any causes of infertility, including those resulting from cancer treatment. We can recommend appropriate treatment options as well as alternative solutions to grow your family.
Our team is here to answer your questions and explain your options so that you can proceed with a plan that works for you and your family. Contact us today to schedule your consultation.