Cancer and treatment can affect your ability to have children. This is called fertility (fur-TILL-uh-tee). This article tells you how girls can be affected and how to plan ahead. You can do some things to have children later, even if you had cancer treatment.
How does cancer treatment affect a woman’s ability to have children?
Chemotherapy and radiation are common cancer treatments. They can be very effective. However, they can also damage the eggs a woman has, or lower the number of eggs. The eggs are what join with a man’s sperm to create a child. A woman who has cancer treatment might not have enough eggs to get pregnant later.
Freezing eggs for later in life
Freezing some of your eggs could be your best chance of getting pregnant later. However, no procedure has a 100% guarantee.
You can have eggs frozen as soon as your early teens if you have a period. The process takes 12 to 14 days, depending on the date of your last period. Freezing eggs involves helping the body make more of them and then taking some out of the ovaries. Then the eggs are frozen to use later.
The best results come from freezing eggs before cancer treatment. In some cases, this is not possible. Some reasons might be:
- You need to start cancer treatment right away.
- You do not feel well enough to have the procedure.
- You do not have enough eggs. If you already started treatment, this might happen.
- Your doctor does not think it is a good option for you.
Who can have eggs frozen?
You need to meet the requirements below.
- You have had at least one (1) period,
- You have at least 14 days before your cancer treatment starts, or
- Your cancer treatment ended at least 6 months ago.
- Your doctor believes you have a good number of eggs, and they are of good quality.
What does it cost?
St. Jude will pay the cost of taking and freezing your eggs until you are 35 years old. However, there is no guarantee you will become pregnant in the future.
Other ways to have children after treatment
There are many ways to have children after cancer treatment. First, there is a chance your treatment will not affect your ability to have children. If so, you might naturally get pregnant and have a child. Other options include:
- Having sperm put into your frozen eggs in a laboratory. This is called “in vitro fertilization” (in-VEE-trow-fur-till-eye-ZAY-shun). Doctors put the egg inside your body when it is ready to grow.
- Using an egg from another woman.
- Adopting a child.
Families come in all shapes and sizes, and are created in many ways. Your St. Jude team is here to help you learn your options for having children after cancer treatment. We want to help you make the best choice for you.
Talk to your doctor, nurse, or someone else on your St. Jude team if you are concerned about having children after cancer treatment. This is important to talk about. The staff of the Fertility Preservation Clinic is here to help and answer your questions.
This document is not intended to take the place of the care and attention of your personal physician or other professional medical services. Our aim is to promote active participation in your care and treatment by providing information and education. Questions about individual health concerns or specific treatment options should be discussed with your physician.
St. Jude complies with health care-related federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex.
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