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Cancer treatments may cause temporary or permanent infertility. A patient's risk of cancer-related infertility depends on his or her age and treatment details such as the following:

  • Dose and frequency of certain chemotherapy or hormone-blocking drugs
  • Radiation to the pelvic area
  • Surgery to remove all or part of the reproductive system (such as the uterus, ovaries, or testicles)

Fertility Preservation

Fertility preservation includes ways to maintain one's ability to have children if for some reason a person becomes temporarily or permanently infertile. Some examples of fertility preservation include freezing sperm, eggs, or ovarian tissue before cancer treatment. Other options include in vitro fertilization, intrauterine insemination, and gestational surrogacy after cancer treatment.

Here are some helpful questions to ask your health care team about cancer and fertility:

  • What are my fertility preservation options?
  • How much time do I have to preserve my fertility before starting treatment?
  • How will I know if I am fertile after treatment?
  • How do I know when it is safe to try to conceive after treatment?
  • Will there be any health risks to me or my future children?

It is important for patients to discuss these questions and changes in sexual health and fertility with the health care team before treatment begins. Knowing what to expect can help the patient and their loved ones prepare for and manage any issues.

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