October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and we are talking about fertility preservation for cancer patients to provide hope for conception down the road. If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer, our deepest wish is for you to win the battle and become a cancer survivor and thrive.
While some breast cancer treatments can impact a woman’s fertility, like chemotherapy for breast cancer which can harm the ovaries leading to infertility (now or down the road), you can often still successfully become pregnant after your cancer treatment. Thanks to advances in technology now more than ever not only can you pursue a post-cancer life of quality, but you can look forward to having children even if you are infertile from your cancer treatment by enlisting help from our board-certified reproductive specialists.
One great option is freezing your eggs (cryopreservation) so that they can be fertilized and implanted later. Embryo freezing is another way to make eventual conception a real possibility. Fertility preservation may not be an option for you depending on your circumstances but there are other ways of adding to your family after treatment through options like third-party parenting, egg donation, surrogate pregnancy or adoption. We place great importance in providing helpful information to patients diagnosed with cancer and ensure they are seen as quickly as possible to expedite their IVF preparation process.
When you are being seen by your medical professionals (like oncologists) to treat your breast or cervical cancer, we encourage you to meet with a fertility specialist to explore the possibility of having your eggs or embryos frozen in time. This is important because time is often of the essence. You can be prepared and taken through the egg retrieval process, and for breast cancer treatment there is usually time between the surgery and the chemotherapy to follow up afterward.
Successful Births after Cancer Treatment
Another factor for breast cancer and other kinds of estrogen-sensitive cancers is that they need to be managed carefully as estrogen can be detrimental. This can be managed with an anti-estrogen, letrozole, combined with fertility drugs so enough eggs are available for retrieval while at the same time your estrogen levels are at or under normal physiologic levels. So the hopeful news is that you can still look forward to pregnancy after surviving cancer. Chemotherapy doesn’t always have to mean sterility. Even if you have a limited reproductive function from lessened ovarian reserves afterward, there is no harm in having a pregnancy or using assisted reproductive technology after having breast cancer treatment.
Younger women with breast cancer are more likely to need fertility preservation, while not all younger women will have their fertility impacted by cancer therapy. Since we can’t predict that ahead of time, preparing for it can be useful if you are able, so take into account what options are available to you medically after a diagnosis, how you feel about yourself and what your hopes are for future childbearing. These are all valid considerations when making decisions about fertility preservation and looking to conceive down the road.
If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer or another kind, we support your decision to plan ahead while delaying beginning to expand your family. With the help of fertility preservation, we can help you freeze your eggs or embryos intending to conceive biological children later. Breast cancer or any cancer requires timely action potentially leading to the postponement of conception. Perhaps reproductive organs and/or gametes may have been damaged, or other life circumstances have delayed your family building plans. Whatever the cause, our Idaho Falls Fertility Center is ready to help you work towards your pregnancy goals through fertility preservation, assisted reproductive technology and/or third party reproduction.
For more information on our options in fertility preservation, please contact our fertility office in Idaho Falls, Idaho, to make an appointment with one of our knowledgeable Reproductive Endocrinologists. You can reach us at 208-529-2019.