People in the YA age group can be in many different stages of life. You may have children; you may want children in the future; you may not want children now, but may change your mind; or you may not have given it much thought at all. Cancer treatment can affect fertility in both women and men making it difficult to conceive a child in the future. A cancer diagnosis may require you to think seriously about children.
Not all cancer treatments affect fertility. Your risk depends on several factors, including
- Your age at the time of diagnosis
- The type and dosage of chemotherapy drug(s) you receive
- The location and dosage of radiation
- Whether you received a blood or marrow stem cell transplantation, which is associated with a high risk of infertility.
Questions for Your Doctor
Talk to your doctor about your fertility as soon as possible. There are ways to preserve fertility, but they must be done before you begin treatment. Options to preserve fertility may be expensive and may not be covered by health insurance.
Some questions you may want to ask are:
- What are the chances the treatment will affect my fertility?
- Have other people been able to get pregnant or father a child naturally after receiving this treatment?
- What can we do to protect fertility before treatment begins, during treatment and/or after treatment ends? Can you recommend a fertility specialist that I can speak with?
- How will I know if treatment has affected my fertility?
- If I have a period of infertility after treatment, should I have my fertility status re-evaluated in the future? If yes, how soon should I have a follow-up evaluation?
- Can I be referred to a fertility specialist?
Depending on how ill you are at the time of diagnosis, and how much time you have before you start treatment, you may be able to take steps before treatment begins to preserve your fertility potential.
Options to Preserve Fertility before Treatment for Females
- Embryo freezing
- Egg freezing
- Ovarian tissue freezing
- Ovarian transposition
- Gonadotropin-releasing hormones (GnRHs)
Learn more about these options to preserve fertility for females and options for having a family after treatment here. Learn more about pregnancy and breastfeeding here.
Options to Preserve Fertility before Treatment for Males
- Sperm banking (cryopreservation)
- Testicular sperm extraction (TESE)
- Testicular tissue freezing
- Radiation testicular shielding
Learn more about these options to preserve fertility for males and options for having a family after treatment here.
Visit the following organizations for more fertility resources:
- Other Helpful Organizations for Fertility and Pregnancy
- Download or order The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s free fact sheet, Fertility Facts.