Preserving Fertility With Cancer: Should You? Can You? How To Pay For It?

The diagnosis of cancer is terrifying. Amidst all the chaos, you need to think of your future fertility. Will you be left infertile? Is there something you can do to preserve your options for getting pregnant and have a biological child? Is it safe? What should you do? How do you afford it? Our guests are Dr. Tessa Cigler, an oncologist at Cornell Medical Center and a board member and executive committee member of the Alliance for Fertility Preservation; and Alice Crisci, founder of Fertile Action, a nonprofit with the mission of ensuring that fertile women touched by cancer have the option to preserve their fertility prior to treatment, cancer survivor, and author of Too Young for This.

Hit the Highlights
  • How does cancer treatment affect fertility?
  • Does all cancer treatment affect fertility?
  • Does it matter what type of cancer you have or what type of treatment you have?
  • What percentage of cancer patients are left infertile?
  • What options are available for women and men to preserve their fertility if they are diagnosed with cancer?
  • How quickly must you act to preserve your fertility when you receive your diagnosis?
  • At what stage in cancer treatment is it best to do an egg or ovarian tissue retrieval?
  • When can men donate sperm for future use?
  • Egg retrieval for women involves injections of a lot of very strong ovulatory stimulating hormones and other drugs. How safe is this for a woman who has a life threatening disease?
  • Is there a potential for these infertility medications to exacerbate the cancer or speed up its growth?
  • Does the use of these fertility medications weaken the woman in some way or stress her body in some way that might impair the chemotherapy effectiveness or her ability to tolerate the cancer treatment?
  • What are the risks of pregnancy for a woman who has survived cancer? Will the hormonal changes of pregnancy put her at increased risk for a recurrence?
  • If a woman conceives with her eggs – non frozen eggs or eggs that have been in her body while treated for cancer – is there an increased risk of miscarriage?
  • What is the success rate for egg freezing in vitro maturation or ovarian tissue freezing?
  • What are the options for paying for fertility preservation?
  • Does health insurance coverage cover fertility preservation for someone diagnosed with cancer?
  • Is fertility preservation coded for insurance purposes as “fertility treatment” or “cancer treatment”. Does it matter?
  • What organizations provide reduced cost egg retrieval and cryopreservation?
  • How can you save money on long term storage of frozen embryos or eggs?
  • How can you save money on fertility medications needed for fertility preservation?

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Image Credit: The Raggedy-man