Fertility Preserving Options for Women

The options for women may include:

  • Embryo freezing: involves the collection of mature eggs and fertilisation with sperm in the laboratory. The resulting fertilised embryos are frozen and preserved until the woman is ready to become pregnant.

  • Oocyte freezing: involves the collection of mature eggs and freezing them (without fertilisation with sperm). These eggs can be stored for an indefinite period of time. When the woman is planning a pregnancy, the eggs are thawed and fertilised with ICSI. The resulting embryos are transferred back to the woman’s uterus at the right stage of the menstrual cycle.

    In case of early-stage cervical cancer, fertility preserving surgery is performed to remove the cervix (trachelectomy). The uterus is intact. A laparoscopic cervical cerclage is required.
  • Oophoropexy: Involves surgically moving the ovaries away from the path of radiation and bringing them back to their original position after treatment, with an intention of protecting the ovaries from radiation therapy.

  • In girls who have not yet entered puberty, ovarian tissue preservation is performed, which involves the surgical removal of ovarian tissue and preserving it by freezing. The tissue may be transplanted back into the girl after the cancer treatment.

  • Egg freezing can be organised on an emergency basis so that cancer treatment is not delayed. It is possible that general health may have declined by the time of cancer diagnosis, and this can have a negative impact on egg numbers and quality.  is important that you talk to Dr Cook and plan early to preserve your fertility.

Fertility-preserving procedures may vary for each individual and each condition. You can discuss with Dr Cook in detail before you decide.

Cancer Related issues for Women

The treatment of cancer may pose temporary or permanent fertility problems in both men and women. The effects may be immediate or show up much later in life.

Various factors, such as the type of cancer, treatment and age, determine your chances of infertility following treatment.

Any cancer therapy would involve one or more of the three general techniques –

  • chemotherapy or the use of high-end medication,

  • radiotherapy, which is the use of high-energy radiation and

  • surgery to destroy and remove cancer cells.

The higher the dose of chemo and radiation therapy, and the older you are, the greater its effect on fertility.

Cancer therapy can damage the endocrine glands (glands that release hormones essential for puberty and fertility.)