Q. When I was diagnosed, my cancer was aggressive and treatment needed to start as soon as possible. So when asked about fertility, I didn't get a chance to review all my options or come up with the money to get it done. I had a partial hysterectomy (my ovaries were removed but my uterus is still there). I was wondering what would be my options for children in the future?
When you are diagnosed with cancer you are faced with many immediate decisions to make, it is extremely overwhelming. It is challenging to process the news of your diagnosis, especially when you have been notified that treatment needs to begin right away. Unfortunately, fertility is not always an immediate conversation or something an individual may automatically think about when beginning cancer treatment. It may not feel or seem like a priority in that moment. Fortunately, the topic of fertility is gaining increasing awareness for both men and women. More and more doctors are having these conversations prior to cancer treatment. And, there are many wonderful organizations that support fertility options—physically, emotionally, and even financially.
In general, fertility preservation is the process of saving or protecting eggs, sperm, or reproductive tissue so that a person can use them to have biological children in the future. It may be time sensitive and could also be necessary to explore prior to cancer treatment. However, everyone’s situation is different and there are many factors to be considered. Therefore, it is important to speak to your medical team to further discuss what your options may be. You may also want to make an appointment with a fertility specialist to gain additional information throughout this process. As medical advancements continue, doctors and patients may become aware of more options. Today, there are many ways to have children and it is important to determine what may be the best fit for you.
The following resources may also be helpful to explore:
- The National Cancer Institute - Fertility
- Fertility Preservation
- Livestrong Fertility
- Fertile Action
- Fertility Within Reach
Fertility issues can be stressful and complex. If you would like to further discuss this topic and how to address it before, during, and after treatment you may be interested in calling CancerCare’s Hopeline to speak to an oncology social worker.