13 Oct Fertility Preservation FAQs
Fertility Preservation: FAQs During Breast Cancer Awareness Month
As Breast Cancer Awareness Month takes center stage in October, it’s important to shed light on the topic of fertility preservation for women undergoing cancer treatment. In fact, the American Society for Clinical Oncology (ASCO) recommends that all patients of reproductive age being treated with chemotherapy or radiation be counseled about the fertility-related risks of their intended treatment.
At Virginia Fertility & IVF, we are committed to patients receiving thorough and accurate counseling about the options as well as the risks for fertility preservation. We recognize the time sensitive nature of fertility preservation for patients with cancer and will arrange for physician consultations on very short notice (1-3 days) for patients with a cancer diagnosis.
In this blog post, we will answer some frequently asked questions about fertility preservation before undergoing cancer treatment.
What is fertility preservation?
Fertility preservation involves taking proactive measures to preserve fertility options before undergoing chemotherapy or radiation. These treatments can be initiated extremely quickly in the face of urgent cancer treatment.
Why is it important for breast cancer patients?
Breast cancer treatments like chemotherapy and radiation may lead to irreversible ovarian damage in some patients. By exploring fertility preservation options, breast cancer patients can increase their chances of having biological children after completing their treatment.
What options are available?
Common fertility preservation options for breast cancer patients include egg freezing, embryo freezing (for couples), and ovarian tissue freezing. These methods aim to preserve eggs or embryos for future use.
When should I consider fertility preservation?
It’s crucial to discuss fertility preservation options with a fertility specialist before starting breast cancer treatment. Ideally, individuals should explore these options as soon as possible after diagnosis and optimally prior to the start of chemotherapy to maximize their chances of success.
How does it affect cancer treatment?
Fertility preservation in the context of IVF and obtaining eggs increases estrogen and progesterone levels. As breast cancer often has cells that grow when exposed to estrogen and progesterone, the hormones produced during ovarian stimulation can stimulate the growth of breast cancer cells. While there are protocols to mitigate (not eliminate) this impact, the decision of whether the risks of IVF are outweighed by the potential benefits must be carefully weighed. For this reason, it’s important to work closely with both your oncologist and fertility specialist to ensure a coordinated approach that prioritizes your overall health and well-being.
Are fertility preservation methods guaranteed to work?
While fertility preservation techniques have advanced significantly, success rates can vary depending on factors such as age and individual health. It’s essential to have a thorough discussion with your fertility specialist to understand the potential success rates and make informed decisions.
Can I pursue fertility preservation if I have already started cancer treatment?
In some cases, fertility preservation may still be possible, even if you have already started cancer treatment. Consult with your fertility specialist to help assess your individual circumstances and provide guidance.
Does insurance cover fertility preservation for cancer patients?
Insurance coverage for fertility preservation can vary. It’s advisable to review your insurance policy and discuss potential coverage options with your fertility specialist. Additionally, some organizations offer financial assistance programs for cancer patients seeking fertility preservation. At Virginia Fertility & IVF, we are proud to partner with Livestrong Fertility and offer discounted fertility preservation treatment for patients with cancer.
If you have cancer and would like more information about the fertility-related risks of your treatment, call us directly or ask your oncologist to refer you to Virginia Fertility & IVF to discuss the impact of cancer treatment on your fertility. Remember, you are not alone in this journey, and there are resources available to help you navigate both your breast cancer treatment and fertility preservation needs.