Fertility – If you have ovaries and a uterus
Talk to your doctor
Having cancer and going through cancer treatment can cause individuals with ovaries and a uterus to lose their fertility (the ability to have a baby). It is important to talk to your cancer doctor about your fertility.
Your cancer doctor may refer you to a reproductive endocrinologist (a doctor who treats problems related to fertility). You will need to give permission to the fertility doctor to send test results and reports to your cancer doctor.
Cancer and Fertility
Your cancer type, treatment, and age can affect your fertility. Fertility can be affected for a short time, or it can be affected for a longer period of time or even permanently. If you have ovaries and a uterus, losing fertility can be the result of
- Damage to ovaries (the two organs where eggs are made) caused by certain kinds of chemotherapy
- Damage to ovaries caused by radiation
- Surgery to remove the uterus (the organ where a baby grows) or ovaries
- Hormonal treatments
Preserving your Fertility
Egg and embryo (a fertilized egg in the earliest stage of growth) freezing are options for many. If you still have a uterus and one or both ovaries, you may be able to get pregnant after treatment. If you were not able to freeze embryos before starting cancer treatment but you still have your uterus, you can also think about using donor eggs or embryos through IVF (in-vitro fertilization). Other ways to help protect fertility (such as ovarian tissue freezing, ovarian suppression or ovarian transposition) are still being tested.
A lot of what doctors understand about egg freezing, embryo freezing, and IVF, is from an individual who does not have cancer. In general, an individual with ovaries and a uterus who is younger than 35 years old and who does not have cancer, has a 40% chance of becoming pregnant using frozen embryos. An individual with ovaries and a uterus who is over 40 years old and who does not have cancer, has a less than 20% chance of becoming pregnant using frozen embryos.
You may have different chances of becoming pregnant with egg freezing, embryo freezing, or IVF because of cancer. There is no guarantee that you can become pregnant by freezing your eggs or embryos, or trying IVF. Talk to your doctor about the chances and risks of becoming pregnant as early as possible.