Fertility Preservation for Cancer Patients
Cancer treatment, such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or surgery, may affect an individual’s fertility or ability to have children.
Fertility preservation is the process of saving or protecting eggs, sperm, or reproductive tissue so that a person can use them to have children in the future. Seeing a fertility specialist can help you know your options. It’s important to consult with a fertility specialist prior to starting cancer treatment if possible.
Fertility Preservation – Where Does it Fit?
Talk to your oncology team about your fertility options:
EARLY: Before cancer treatment starts
OFTEN: If your treatment plan changes
AFTER: Once cancer treatment is over
- Speak up and ask your oncologist and care team members about your options for fertility preservation!
- These questions can help get the conversation started:
- How will my cancer and cancer treatment affect my fertility?
- Based on my treatment plan, what is my risk of infertility [high, moderate, low]?
- What are my options for fertility preservation before I begin cancer treatment?
- How much time do I have to pursue fertility preservation before I begin cancer treatment?
- If I don’t preserve my fertility before treatment starts, what are my options later?
- Can you refer me to a fertility preservation specialist to discuss all my options?
- If I decide on preservation, what tests will I need before I begin?
- Starting the conversation
- Don’t wait for your care team to bring up fertility preservation - you can ask for more information or a referral yourself!
- Insurance coverage and costs vary
- Some health plans cover the cost of fertility procedures for cancer patients. You can appeal the decision if your health plan tells you that fertility preservation isn’t covered by your plan.
- Financial assistance can help
- There are numerous options for financial assistance - make sure you talk with your fertility specialist about this as well as your care team.
A fertility preservation specialist can help you decide what options are best for you, which may include:
Men and Adolescents
- Sperm freezing
- Surgical sperm extraction
- Testicular shielding
- Testicular tissue freezing (experimental)
Women and Adolescents
- Egg freezing (unfertilized)
- Embryo freezing (fertilized egg)
- Ovarian shielding
- Ovarian transposition
- Conservative surgical approaches
- Ovarian tissue freezing (experimental)
- Hormonal suppression (experimental)
- Ovarian or testicular tissue freezing (experimental)