Women (and Men!) Are Preserving Their Fertility by Freezing Eggs, Sperm and Embryos before Starting Breast Cancer Treatment
Cancer is a scary five-letter word. Most women diagnosed with cancer fear the loss of their breasts and hair. But for women who want to have children one day, their main concern can be losing their fertility. But now, egg freezing allows women to focus on their breast cancer treatment knowing their eggs- and fertility- have been protected.
Infertility is certainly a side effect of many cancer treatments. Depending on the patient’s age and the type of treatment, there is the risk of early menopause and infertility. Chemotherapy can damage the ovaries and decrease a woman’s ovarian reserve. Both chemo and tamoxifen, which is often given to women for up to five years, can cause irregular periods or stop periods altogether.
The Good News
The good news is that at Conceptions Florida we know that having a baby after breast cancer is possible. We work closely with our patients’ oncologists and breast surgeons to determine when and how a patient can freeze her eggs- or embryos if she has a partner- before treatment. And hopefully work with them after the cancer treatment to get pregnant.
We are pleased to see more and more patients freezing their eggs before they start treatment. Word of fertility preservation is getting out to both patients and oncologists. As success rates for egg freezing have soared, it has become a viable and life changing choice that we believe all cancer patients should be given.
A 26 Year Old Breast Cancer Patient Freezes Her Eggs
Just recently we received a call from an oncologist about a 26-year old woman who was diagnosed with cancer with positive lymph nodes. She was scheduled for chemotherapy and radiation. But her main concern was not survival- her oncologist had inspired confidence that her treatments would be successful. She was concerned about her ability to have children in the future. That is a concern we understand too well.
We gave her an appointment within 24 hours, as we do for all of our cancer patients. Within just a couple of days we were able to begin our standard treatment: stimulating the ovaries to produce extra follicles and eggs that month. We then retrieved and froze her eggs as soon as they were mature.
In addition to our medical support, we were also able to provide this patient with financial support. Through our partnership with LIVESTRONG Fertility patients can get free medication. It is amazing to have an organization that offers financial as well as emotional resources to cancer warriors. In addition, at Conceptions we deeply discount all of our services for cancer patients.
We are now looking forward to the day when our 26–year old patient will be ready to fertilize those eggs through IVF and start a family. Until then, her eggs, as well as men’s sperm and embryos, are under our care, even during a hurricane.
Yes, you heard us. Men’s sperm. Because breast cancer does not belong exclusively to women. Freezing sperm is simple, quick and inexpensive and should be considered by all men facing a cancer diagnosis who want to have children one day.
This October- and every day of the year- we salute our cancer warriors. We know one day they will make incredible parents. And we are so proud to help along the way.