Chemotherapy may have lasting effects on fertility

Fighting cancer is tough enough for any family, but fighting infertility which can occur as a result of cancer treatments makes things even more difficult.

According to preliminary research from the University of California, San Francisco, and Dr. Mitchell Rosen, chemotherapy treatments may have a greater impact on female fertility than previous thought.

Chemotherapy and other cancer treatments are designed to attack cancerous tumors in a patient’s body but unfortunately may have negative effects on a person’s reproductive organs as well. The results can lead to infertility or other difficulties achieving pregnancy.

While men’s fertility can be affected by the cancer treatments, Rosen’s research primarily focused on female infertility.  In the study, Rosen surveyed 600 women who had undergone chemotherapy and found 23 percent had trouble conceiving, a significantly higher percentage than the national average.

Rosen’s findings have led him to begin advocating for patients to be well educated about their fertility preservation options before beginning treatment.

“I don’t think that everyone who has cancer needs to have fertility preservation,” Rosen said in an article appearing on sfgate.com. “But they need to be counseled and look at whether this is a possibility for them and whether they want to do it.”

Among their options for fertility preservation, cancer patients can freeze their eggs prior to beginning treatments or create embryos which will be frozen and saved for later use. Sadly for women who have particularly aggressive or dangerous forms of cancer, there may not be time to collect and store genetic material. Cost also plays a role for many women.

Another alternative for those whose fertility has been affected is embryo adoption, a relatively new and more cost effective form of adoption. During embryo adoption, families with remaining frozen embryos donate their embryos to adoptive families. The adoptive family implants the donor embryos into the mother’s uterus with the intended end result of giving birth to a child who is not genetically related to her.

To read more about Dr. Rosen’s study visit sfgate.com.

To learn more about Embryo Adoption please visit EmbryoAdoption.org

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