We need to be doing a better job getting the word out that it is indeed possible to preserve your option to have children after you’ve been diagnosed with cancer. Each year 140,000 people under the age of 45 will be diagnosed with cancer and undergo treatment. Unfortunately, this life-saving treatment often is life-preventing in the long run—rendering the cancer patient infertile after they have been successfully treated.
While it is not always possible to preserve your fertility, there are many options that may keep the door open to getting pregnant or getting your partner pregnant if only they were considered soon enough.
- Ovarian stimulation to allow for egg retrieval followed by freezing the eggs or embryos.
- Freezing sperm.
- Shielding reproductive organs from radiation.
- Medication that will reduce the impact of chemotherapy on the ovaries.
- Surgically repositioning the ovaries if they are in the radiation zone.
Unfortunately only 50-60% of cancer doctors even talk with their younger patients about fertility preservation. We can do better. We must do better.
The first step is to educate as many people as possible. You may not ever need this information for yourself, but you’ll likely know someone who will, and you may be at the right place at the right time to help them save their fertility. Please listen to this week’s Creating a Family show to learn more. It was absolutely fascinating what they are now able to do to save fertility, but the key is to act quickly before cancer treatment begins. We also talked about the safety issues for both mother and child.
How to Pay for Fertility Preservation
Paying fertility preservation is always a concern and unfortunately most health insurance does not cover these options. However, many clinics offer reduced costs, some sperm banks offer special discounts for storage, and Ferring Pharaceuticals offers some of their fertility medications at no cost through their HeartBeat Program. Other options exist for lowering the cost of fertility preservation, including grants.
Do you know anyone that tried to preserve their fertility when diagnosed with cancer? Was it successful?