A potential effect of cancer and cancer treatment is the loss of fertility in both men and women. Depending on cancer type and treatment methods, your age, and other factors, your fertility may be compromised on a temporary or permanent basis. It is important to speak with your health care team about fertility concerns before and during treatment.
Coping with Fertility Concerns
Talk to your health care team about your fertility concerns. It’s important to determine if your treatment plan will affect your fertility and possible solutions. Depending on the type of cancer and treatment plan, there are different options to preserve fertility for men and women. Women may be able to freeze eggs, embryos and ovarian tissue for many years that may still be used to try to have a baby. For men, there may be options to preserve fertility before cancer treatments, including sperm banking.
If your medical team has not yet brought up the topic of fertility, you can advocate for yourself by initiating the conversation. A sensitive topic such as fertility may feel difficult to discuss, but having an open conversation with your health care team before and during treatment can improve your chance of having fertility options in the future. Here are some questions you may want to ask your doctor:
- Will my treatment plan affect my fertility? If so, will this treatment affect my fertility short-term or long-term?
- If my treatment affects my fertility, what possible solutions are covered by my insurance? And what steps do I need to take before starting treatment?
- Should I talk to a fertility specialist? If so, can you recommend one?
- When can I start trying to conceive after my treatment is finished? It is important to maintain open and honest communication with your health care team to receive the best care possible.
Get support. Dealing with fertility concerns can be stressful. Oncology social workers understand the complex issues that can arise with a cancer diagnosis and fertility. CancerCare’s professional oncology social workers can help, free of charge. To speak with a professional oncology social worker, call 800-813-HOPE (4673).
Fertile Action offers financial aid programs, education, support and advocacy to help women touched by cancer become mothers.
LIVESTRONG Fertility helps cancers survivors access discounted rates on fertility preservation services. The LIVESTRONG Foundation offers donated fertility medications and discounted sperm, embryo and egg freezing services through a national network of reproductive clinics and sperm bank partners. These network members agree to directly discount their services for approved applicants.
The Oncofertility Consortium
The Oncofertility Consortium provides a patient education website highlighting fertility issues and concerns, as well as maintains additional website SaveMyFertility.org.
ReproTech and Verna’s Purse
ReproTech offers safe and effective shipment and long term storage of reproductive tissue that has been originally cryopreserved at another laboratory or cryobank. ReproTech offers a financial assistance program, Verna’s Purse, for those who qualify at www.reprotech.com/verna-s-purse.html.
RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association
RESOLVE is a non-profit organization with the only established, nationwide network mandated to promote reproductive health and to ensure equal access to all family building options for men and women experiencing infertility or other reproductive disorders.
The Samfund: Support for Young Adult Cancer Survivors
The Samfund provides support to young adults who are struggling financially due to cancer. Twice a year, gives grants to survivors aged 21-39 to help with medical bills, living expenses, educational/professional development, graduate tuition, student loans, cosmetic or reconstructive procedures, family building options/procedures, health insurance supplementation, mental health, physical therapy, residual and current medical expenses, transportation-related expenses, legal expenses and rent/mortgage supplementation.
Edited by Stacy Lewis, LMSW, ACHP-SW