Dubai, United Arab Emirates, February 6, 2020: Although some treatments have little to no effect on the reproductive health of a patient, in certain other cases, cancer treatments are likely to impair the ovaries or testes, causing temporary or permanent infertility.
Hence it is essential for patients to consult their oncologists or other treating doctors on the long-term impact such treatments can have on their reproductive function, and their chances of having children.
Dr. Monikaa Chawla, Reproductive Endocrinologist and Infertility Consultant at Fakih IVF said, “As cancer treatments can impact a patient’s fertility, they need to discuss the various fertility preservation options with their doctor beforehand, understand the risks involved with such treatments and the costs associated with them. Besides chemotherapy, doctors must brief patients regarding the various surgical or radiation therapies, and the impact each of these could have on the reproductive health.”
Dr. Hussein Kandil, Specialist Urology at Fakih IVF said, “By the time cancer treatment ends, the recovery of the reproductive function is unpredictable, as it depends on the type and duration of therapy given. Additionally, in male patients even if the sperm numbers have not dramatically declined, other parameters may get undoubtedly altered e.g. DNA-integrity which determines the potency of sperm function, hence it is advised to postpone pregnancy for some time until full recovery of the testis.”
The risk of infertility highly depends on the type and dosage of medication used. In women, age is also a contributing factor, especially as older women have fewer eggs increasing their chances of becoming infertile after the treatment. Hence in such cases women consider several fertility preservation options. Some of the most common procedures include egg or embryo freezing, a procedure involving the isolation of mature eggs from the ovary for future use. Patients opting for this procedure must consult with their oncologist regarding the safety of the procedure and the number of cycles of stimulation required before the cancer treatment.
“Depending on the number of eggs or embryos frozen in the first cycle, doctors can suggest the need of undergoing more cycles. One must remember that freezing more eggs increases the chances of conceiving in the future,” said Dr Chawla.
Men battling cancer are also looking at options that can increase their chances of having a child despite battling the disease. Fertility preservation for men includes collecting and freezing their semen prior to the cancer treatment. The sperm can then be thawed and used to fertilize eggs of the partner when considering starting a family.
As fertility preservation is increasingly becoming common among individuals battling life threatening diseases, it is imperative to consult your healthcare practitioner seeking the ideal treatment option before proceeding with the surgery.