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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). Radiotherapy and chemotherapy may damage the quantity and quality of sperm in men, and decrease the number of mature healthy eggs produced in women. Cancers of the reproductive organs such as the testicles, ovaries, uterus, fallopian tubes and cervix may require surgical removal, thus affecting the ability to reproduce. Cancer treatment can also increase the risk of early menopause in women, making them infertile at a much younger age.
Since avoiding cancer treatment is not an option, there are methods to preserve your fertility. Fertility-preserving procedures are most commonly performed before cancer treatment. It is important that you talk to your doctor about these methods and plan early to preserve your fertility.
Fertility-preserving options in men
The options for men may include:
Fertility-preserving options in women
The options for women may include:
Fertility-preserving procedures may vary for each individual and each condition. You can discuss with your doctor in detail before you decide.
RPAH Medical Centre
100 Carillon Avenue
Newtown, NSW 2042
Ph: (02) 9519-9707 Fax: (02) 8088-8005