Cancer: How to Preserve Your Fertility

When a young person is diagnosed with cancer, their first thought is how to survive, but the second or third thought should be how to preserve your fertility. We talk about what steps you should take before treatment to be able to have children later in life. Host Dawn Davenport talks with Dr. Michelle Ottey, Laboratory Director for Fairfax Cryobank, who works with male cancer patients; Dr. Stephen Lincoln, Medical Director of the Fertility Preservation Center for Cancer Patients at the Genetics and IVF Institute; and Lauren Haring, Director and Co-Founder of the Fertility Preservation Center for Cancer Patients at GIVF.

Hit the Highlights
  • Sometimes it’s the cancer itself that affects fertility and sometimes it’s the treatment. What cancers directly affect someone’s ability to conceive or carry a baby to term or impregnate their partner?
  • Is there any way to preserve fertility when you have a cancer of this type?
  • What types of cancer treatment affects fertility?
  • What are your options for preserving your fertility if you are going to have to undergo these types of treatment. Male? female?
  • Is there a way to protect the ovaries from the damage caused by chemotherapy?
  • Is there a way to protect the ovaries and reproductive organs from the damage of radiation?
  • Why are some women rendered infertile by the same dose of radiation that does not cause another women to be infertile?
  • Is all chemotherapy equally damaging to fertility?
  • How does chemotherapy affect a man’s fertility?
  • How long does it take for me to rebuild their sperm after cancer treatment?
  • How many sperm samples to bank?
  • Is it safe to delay cancer treatment while you try to freeze eggs?
  • How long does it take to develop and freeze eggs?
  • Can cancer cells get into the semen or sperm and somehow give the woman or baby cancer?
  • How inheritable is cancer?
  • For women, the issue of safety of IVF or pregnancy after cancer is more complicated. Let’s start with a basic explanation of what is involved with an IVF cycle using frozen eggs or embryos.
  • How effective is IVF with donor egg IVF or your own frozen eggs on patients who have been treated for cancer?
  • Is pregnancy after cancer through IVF more dangerous for mother or baby than regular IVF?
  • Do the drugs used in IVF increase the probability of a recurrence of the cancer?
  • How to pay for preserving your fertility when you are in the midst of beginning cancer treatment.
  • Should try to have kids after a cancer diagnosis? Is it fair to the child? How do the patients you work with balance their prognosis with their desire to have children?

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Image Credit: StephenMitchell

Show originally aired in 2014.