Getting a cancer diagnosis can be heartbreaking. Learning that a treatment that can save your life might also dash your dream of having a family can compound that heartbreak to an indescribable degree. UR Medicine Fertility Specialist Dr. Wendy Vitek discusses options for preserving fertility through cancer treatment.
If you’re among the 140,000 young people diagnosed with cancer each year in the U.S., you may be concerned about the impact that cancer treatment could have on your future fertility.
In many cases, oncologists know if or how various treatments may impair fertility. But adding a fertility expert to your care team can round out that knowledge and help you understand your options.
While research continues in an effort to discover the most effective methods for preserving fertility, several alternatives are currently offering hope.
Among the options for women is embryo or oocyte (egg) banking, or suppressing ovarian function during cancer treatment. For men, methods may include sperm banking and techniques to extract sperm or remove testicular tissue for freezing.
If a cancer diagnosis has you considering fertility preservation:
- Put cancer treatment first—above all, treating the cancer takes priority.
- Create a partnership—all options can be explored when a multidisciplinary team, including an oncologist and a fertility specialist, work together.
- Act quickly—assess potential for fertility preservation as early as possible after diagnosis.
- Explore all options—knowing your options can help you to feel empowered at a time when you may be feeling powerless over the cancer diagnosis.
Beyond the options, fertility preservation may present financial challenges. Many health plans don’t cover fertility preservation, which can certainly add anxiety at a time when people should be focused on healing. To help defray costs, Strong Fertility Center sponsors events throughout the year aimed and raising funds to help those who seek fertility preservation services but cannot otherwise afford it.
Wendy Vitek, M.D., combines clinical expertise, kindness, and compassion with state-of-the-art technologies, caring for patients at UR Medicine’s Strong Fertility Center. A board-certified reproductive endocrinologist, she is director of the Fertility Preservation Program.