The drugs and radiation treatment used in chemotherapy has the potential to adversely affect both male and female fertility.
Chemotherapy attacks fast dividing cells. Unfortunately, as sperm cells rapidly divide, they can be targeted and destroyed by the process, resulting in potentially lower sperm counts, reduced testosterone, and damaged sperm (and the cells that create sperm).
In some cases, fertility levels may remain consistent with pre-treatment levels, or may gradually recover over time. Nevertheless, for others, there is a danger of long term sperm-related issues, an increased risk of potential birth defects, or infertility.
For women, the chemotherapy process can target oocytes–the cells in the ovaries instrumental to preparing the uterus for pregnancy. This damage can reduce critical hormones necessary for fertility and may also trigger premature menopause.
Additionally, several of the drugs used in chemotherapy can also produce serious long-term risks to fertility.
Fortunately, with the right preparations beforehand, both men and women can maximize their family planning options.
FERTILITY PRESERVATION OPTIONS FOR MEN:
Banking on your options:
Thankfully, sperm banks provide a simple and practical solution for preserving healthy sperm prior to undertaking chemotherapy. Storing sperm allows men to maximize their options and begins with a referral to a reproductive urologist.
Experts will be able to confirm your sperm count and sperm health, keeping you fully informed and equipped to make the best decisions for your family planning. A range of options are then available to allow a sperm bank to collect the sperm needed to freeze and preserve.
When you’ve decided that the time is right to pursue pregnancy, the frozen sperm can be accessed via intrauterine insemination (IUI) or In vitro fertilization (IVF). Your doctor can help you explore what option will best meet your needs and unique situation.
FERTILITY PRESERVATION OPTIONS FOR WOMEN:
While it’s crucial to understand that no fertility method guarantees a successful pregnancy, it’s equally important to understand all of the potential options available to you.
For many women, the best options will be to undertake egg freezing.
With egg freezing, a woman may choose to preserve her own healthy eggs, which are then frozen and stored by a fertility clinic until she is ready to request them to pursue pregnancy.
For many couples, embryo freezing may be the more common choice. With embryo freezing, eggs are extracted and then impregnated by the sperm of her partner or sperm donor. This procedure may be done with several thousand sperm, to maximize an opportunity for the egg to become impregnated, or by a single sperm, in a process that directly injects the sperm into the egg for fertilization.
Regardless of which option is selected, the frozen embryo can then be stored, as with egg freezing, until the decision is made to pursue pregnancy.
If you have any questions about your options for fertility preservation, or seek additional guidance for your specific health concerns, the team at the Fertility Institute of San Diego, can give you the support you need. They are a boutique San Diego fertility center that firmly believes that total wellness is an essential component during your fertility journey and pregnancy. Dr. Hosseinzadeh and her dedicated team of fertility specialists are here to help you throughout any part of your journey. Southern California residents can take advantage and book a free consultation with Dr. Hosseinzadeh, to go over nutrition or any other fertility related questions, by clicking here.