Cancer and its treatment can cause great damage to the reproductive organs. Most fertility damage is caused by the use of chemotherapy and radiation therapy to the abdominal area. However, if you are a cancer patient, there are options for preserving your fertility. It is important to voice your fertility concerns before you begin treatment.
Fertility Preservation Methods
GnRH-analogues for female patients
Gonadotropin-releasing hormone is given to you a couple of weeks before cancer treatment and then monthly after treatment has begun. This hormone suppresses ovulation making you go into menopause for a short period. Reducing activity in the ovaries will likely lower the number of damaged eggs during your treatment.
You will take fertility medication to ensure that multiple healthy ooctyes or eggs are available to collect during your cycles. Later, the embryologist retrieves the eggs once they are mature using a procedure called follicular aspiration. This is an outpatient procedure performed under light anesthesia and sedation. The eggs are then frozen through a process called vitrification and transferred to a cryobank for later usage.
Ovarian tissue cryopreservation
The embryologist will remove all or part of one ovary through laparoscopy, a minimally invasive surgery procedure. The tissue is then frozen through a process called vitrification and transferred to cryobank for later usage. The whole ovary or parts of the tissue will be placed back into your body after cancer treatment and when you are ready to conceive.
You will provide a fresh semen sample. The embryologist examines the sample and removes the best sperm for insemination. The sperm is then frozen through a process called vitrification and transferred to a cryobank for later usage.
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