Women or men who want to start a family but who are also undergoing chemotherapy are naturally concerned about their subsequent fertility. Chemotherapy can sometimes take away your option to have children or can cause you to doubt if having children is even the right thing to do, according to the American Cancer Society. Most people who are in this situation can become a parent, just maybe not the way you expected.
Chemotherapy drugs can cause men to become infertile mainly by damaging the lining of the testicles, which affects sperm production, according to the Chemo Care website. This damage could be permanent, or it could reverse itself. For women, chemotherapy drugs can bring on an early menopause, or they can cause ovarian damage or failure.
If you want to have a family, you should talk to your health care team prior to starting chemotherapy. The effects on fertility vary depending on the types of cancer treatment you receive, according to the American Cancer Society. You may have options to save your fertility, but you need to make those decisions before starting your treatment.
Health of Future Children
As far as worries about chemotherapy possibly causing health problems or birth defects in future children, each person’s situation is different, according to the American Cancer Society. The ACS recommends that you discuss this issue with a genetic counselor or a reproductive specialist. If your periods resume after chemotherapy, you should wait six months after the chemo to get pregnant.
Sperm, Embryo and Egg Freezing
Men can bank their sperm for future use. The man would ejaculate in a cup. The doctor tests the sperm for count, shape and motility and then freezes and stores the sperm.
An option to preserve your fertility is to freeze your embryo. The doctor will remove mature eggs from your ovaries, fertilize them in the lab and freeze them for you to use after your cancer treatment is over.
Egg freezing is a newer option that uses the same procedure as embryo freezing, but the doctor freezes your eggs without fertilizing them. This option is attractive to women who do not have a partner.
Determine Your Fertility After Treatment
After your cancer treatment is over, you may be able to get pregnant without infertility treatment, according to the American Cancer Society. If your menstrual cycles are abnormal, you may be able to get pregnant through in-vitro fertilization.
Your partner can have his semen analyzed to determine his fertility. Not only can he have his sperm tested, he can have tests that measure damage to the sperm’s DNA.
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