Oncofertility

The field of oncofertility is focused on assisting cancer patients and survivors maximize their reproductive potential. Working together, oncologists and fertility specialists can address the impact life-saving cancer therapies have on fertility.

 

Cancer and Fertility

Advances in cancer therapies have led to increased survival rates, but surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy can all result in reduced fertility.

Gonadotoxic chemotherapy drugs and substances cause temporary or permanent damage to the ovaries and testes. These drugs impact the ovarian reserve – the number of egg-producing follicles a woman has in her ovaries – by destroying immature and/or mature follicles and resulting in early menopause. Radiation to the abdomen or pelvis can also damage ovarian follicles or the reproductive organs. Even radiation to certain areas of the brain can lead to infertility by disrupting hormone production.

Chemotherapy and radiation can also impact sperm count, sperm motility or sperm morphology leading to male infertility. Surgical removal of the testicles and nerve damage that limits ejaculation are other causes of infertility.

Infertility is an important quality of life issue for young cancer survivors and one that should ideally be addressed immediately following diagnosis. By referring patients to a reproductive endocrinologist prior to the start of cancer treatment, steps can be taken to preserve fertility options.

 

Oncofertility and Female Fertility Options

Depending on patient age and other factors, there are a number of female fertility options available to women before, during and after cancer treatment:

 

 

Oncofertility and Male Fertility Preservation

Fertility preservation options are also available to young men facing cancer treatment. These options include:

 

 

Experimental Fertility Preservation Options

The below experimental treatment options have shown promise for future use:

 

 

Growing survival rates among young cancer patients emphasizes the need for fertility preservation. Oncofertility addresses the future fertility impact of cancer treatment in this population.

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