One of the many unfortunate and life-changing effects of cancer and its treatments is the possibility of infertility following treatment. Chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery can all negatively affect fertility and it’s important to know those affects prior to undergoing cancer treatment.
Talk with your Oncologist about those risks and discuss the option of fertility preservation. Utah Fertility Center offers procedures such as sperm cryopreservation, egg freezing and embryo freezing to preserve fertility. We understand the urgency that Oncofertility patients face and the need to be seen quickly. Please inform us of your situation and we can arrange a same week consultation appointment.
Sperm can be cryopreserved (frozen) prior to undergoing cancer treatment. The sperm can later be thawed for use in intrauterine inseminations or in vitro fertilization.
Advancements in technology have made egg freezing a feasible option. This process typically takes four to six weeks and is available for female patients after puberty. Medications are given to enhance the production of eggs. Many eggs are produced and matured rather than one egg as is typical for women each month. The eggs are then retrieved from the ovaries and vitrified or frozen using a flash freeze process. The eggs can be thawed at a later time, fertilized and implanted into the uterus in a frozen embryo transfer (FET).
The process of embryo freezing is similar to egg freezing. In vitro fertilization stimulates the ovaries to produce multiple eggs in a single cycle. The eggs are then retrieved, and one an additional step is taken to fertilize the eggs with a partner’s sperm or donor sperm if applicable. Eggs that successfully fertilize are grown for five days in the laboratory and on day five the healthy embryos have typically reached the blastocyst stage. Viable embryos are frozen and stored until the patient is in successful remission and ready to prepare for an embryo transfer.
Due to the way hormones affect some types of cancer, sperm, egg or embryo freezing may not be optimal for all cancer patients. Egg and sperm donors provide a valuable option for couples to achieve pregnancy, carry a baby and grow their families when their own fertility has been compromised. Using a gestational carrier is another incredible way that families can grow when faced with certain challenges.
If you have been diagnosed with cancer or are struggling with fertility as a result of cancer treatment, we encourage you to contact Utah Fertility Center at 801-785-5100. Our team of reproductive endocrinologists can help you understand your opportunities for parenthood in the event of complex fertility issues.