Women diagnosed with cancer often face an unknown fertility future. ¬†Cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation may target a woman‚Äôs eggs, leaving her infertile.
Fortunately, over the past 50 years, progress in the field of reproductive medicine has produced fertility-preservation options for women undergoing cancer treatment.
Below is a summary of current female fertility-preservation techniques:
Embryo cryopreservation. ¬†This technique involves extracting eggs from the patient, typically by inducing ovulation. ¬†The eggs then undergo in vitro fertilization to generate viable embryos. ¬†The embryos can later be implanted when the woman is ready to conceive. ¬†This is the most common and successful technique.
Ovarian transposition. ¬†For women receiving radiation localized to the abdomen or groin, this technique may be beneficial. ¬†It involves moving the ovaries or shielding them from the target area of radiation. ¬†About 50% of women regain menstruation following this procedure. ¬†It will not prevent the infertility effects of chemotherapy.
Radical trachelectomy. ¬†This option results in complete removal of the cervix in cervical cancer patients with small, localized tumors. ¬†Though pregnancy is possible following this procedure, patients are at a higher risk for miscarriage and premature birth due to alterations in the uterus.
Fertility-sparing surgical procedure. ¬†For patients with less aggressive forms of ovarian cancer, surgeons may opt to remove only the affected ovary, thus leaving the patient with one functioning ovary.