Q. How do I deal with the possibility of infertility due to my cancer treatments?

A.

Facing the possibility of not having your own children can be upsetting and affect your relationships and how you feel about yourself. If at all possible, before you make a decision about your treatment, take time to explore all the options available to you. Here are some other things you can do:

  • Speak to your doctor before treatment about how the effects of surgery, chemotherapy drugs, or radiation might affect your ability to conceive and have children. Ask about options to preserve your fertility or alternative ways to treat your cancer.
  • Ask your doctor to make a referral to a reproductive specialist. Sperm and embryo cryopreservation are considered standard practice and widely available; other fertility preservation methods (such as ovarian tissue freezing, ovarian suppression or ovarian transposition) should be considered investigational and be performed in centers with the necessary expertise.
  • If you are uncertain about your fertility after cancer treatment, you can test your blood levels of FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) to determine your ovarian health.
  • You can consider adoption and surrogacy.

The possibility that one cannot have a child, or an additional child, is a loss and, as with other losses, you need time and space to grieve. You may want to speak with a social worker or join a support group to connect with other women who are experiencing similar feelings.

Other helpful organizations include: