Cancer survival rates are continuing to increase, thanks to groundbreaking clinical trials and ongoing drug development. This means if you are one of the 1.8 million people in the United States diagnosed with cancer this year, you have a good chance of beating the disease.
Studies have shown individuals who are optimistic are more likely to survive cancer. One way to boost optimism is by planning for positive events in your future, such as starting a family. Fortunately, there are many options you can consider to help you conceive a child after completing your cancer treatment.
Male Fertility Challenges
Some forms of cancer can affect male fertility. There may be a hormonal imbalance or a tumor may prevent organs from functioning normally. However, it’s more common for cancer treatments to cause fertility issues. Sperm can be damaged by chemotherapy. Sperm production can also be reduced due to hormone therapy treatments.
Doctors also recommend men avoid impregnating their partner while they are undergoing treatment. This is because it is unclear if they have an increased risk of fathering a child with birth defects.
Female Fertility Challenges
Women who have cancer may have fertility issues from the disease. A woman’s fallopian tubes may be blocked or damaged by tumors.
Women can also face fertility issues as a result of their cancer treatment. Primary ovarian insufficiency (POI) occurs when a woman’s body stops releasing estrogen. Women with POI will stop ovulating, which means it is not possible for them to get pregnant. POI can be temporary or permanent. It is typically caused by chemotherapy. A woman’s reproductive organs may also be damaged by radiation therapy.
Surgery to remove tumors can also cause scarring or damaged tissue, which can affect a woman’s ability to conceive. There are also risks of conceiving a child with birth defects if a woman becomes pregnant during or after cancer treatments.
Male Fertility Options
Some men may be able to offset the risk of infertility by securing and storing sperm samples. Fertility clinics are able to safely store sperm samples indefinitely. Men who pursue this option can have their sperm artificially inseminated into their partner to father a child.
Men who become infertile from cancer or treatment can also consider using a private sperm donation from a reputable fertility clinic. Clinics such as PFCLA can work with you to secure donor sperm from a known sperm donor, such as a friend or family member. They can also help you secure a sperm donation from an anonymous donor through a certified sperm bank. Sperm banks provide extensive information about potential donors, including their medical background, hair color, and race.
Once you have a sperm sample, you have two options for fathering a child with your partner. One is through artificial insemination. The other is through in vitro fertilization. These decisions may be impacted by finances and any fertility issues your partner has.
Female Fertility Options
Ideally, women who are diagnosed with cancer will discuss potential fertility issues with their doctor before treatment begins. This allows female cancer patients to make the best possible decisions to increase their chances of having a family after their treatment, such as human egg freezing.
Women can have eggs removed and stored by a fertility clinic. This will ensure they are able to use their eggs to conceive. They can also have their eggs fertilized and implanted into a surrogate, who can carry their child to term. This is an option for women who are unable to sustain a pregnancy after their cancer treatment.
It’s also possible for women to select donor eggs and use in vitro fertilization to become pregnant.
There are costs associated with storing sperm and eggs. Those who pursue this option will need to pay an annual storage fee until their samples are used, destroyed, or donated.
Some insurance plans offer no assistance with fertility treatments. Others cover some or all of the costs. It is important to review the coverage available through your insurance plan and, if possible, switch plans to enable you to afford fertility treatments. Optimum plans cover the costs of receiving fertility drugs, as well as artificial insemination and in vitro fertilization.