Preserving Your Fertility Before Transplant
For young men and women who have cancer and are planning to undergo a transplant, a common question they ask is, how will this affect my fertility? If the ability to have children naturally is something that is important to you, have this conversation early on with your healthcare team. They will be able to outline options with you help you get connected with Weill Cornell Medicine’s fertility specialists.
Cancer treatments can impair fertility in women in a number of ways. For example, some chemotherapy can destroy eggs, which could lead to infertility after treatment. This loss of eggs in the ovaries can actually “age” the ovaries, reducing the chance of pregnancy. There have been some cases where women go into early menopause after treatment as well. Women have many options when it comes to preserving their fertility. One option is to take hormones for approximately 10-14 days and collecting eggs. In order to create embryos, the eggs may be fertilized with sperm. Then, the embryos or eggs are frozen and stored.
There are many factors that need to be considered to determine success rate in having a baby using frozen eggs or embryos. These include age at the time of egg retrieval, current ovarian reserve and the number of mature eggs obtained from the procedure. Every egg that is collected will not become a baby. Women under 35 years of age generally have a higher chance of success. If you are interested in an appointment to learn more about your fertility preservation options, contact Cornell’s dedicated Fertility Preservation Program Specialist at 646-962-5450 or visit www.ivf.org for more information.
Many cancer treatments can cause damage to the cells that grow into sperm as well. Men who can no longer produce sperm will be infertile, meaning they will not be able to have a biologic child. It’s possible the cells can recover, but there’s a chance they may not. It is never certain how treatment will affect a man’s future fertility. Men who want to preserve their fertility have the option of sperm banking. Through this process, men collect, freeze and store sperm. In order to complete the process, three collections are needed. Sperm banking is typically done at a licensed laboratory or fertility clinic and these are available nationwide. For male fertility preservation, please contact the Manhattan Cryobank at 212-396-2796 or ReproLab at 212-779-3988 for sperm cryopreservation information.
Patients with cancer have a lot to consider and fertility should be addressed early on, before treatment. It can be difficult to make a decision about fertility preservation because there are many unknowns. It is important to understand that you do not have the make this decision alone. Your healthcare team will assist you in making an informed decision.