Cancer treatment – including chemotherapy, radiation and certain surgical procedures – can impair fertility. For women, these treatments can damage or deplete your supply of eggs. For men, cancer treatments can affect sperm production or motility (ability to move or “swim”).
Experts at the Fertility & Reproductive Medicine Center offer fertility preservation techniques that preserve eggs, sperm and reproductive tissue prior to cancer treatments. When you complete cancer treatments, we use your stored eggs, sperm or reproductive tissue to help you start a family.
Cancer-Related Fertility Preservation: Why Choose Us?
If you are facing cancer treatment and are concerned about your future fertility, we are here to help. At the Fertility & Reproductive Medicine Center, you will find:
- Top-ranked team: Our center is affiliated with the Siteman Cancer Center, and we work closely with their team of expert oncologists. The Siteman Cancer Center has been given an exceptional rating by the National Cancer Institute – the highest designation they bestow.
- Individualized treatment plan: Our oncofertility specialists (doctors who specialize in fertility preservation for people with cancer) will collaborate with your oncologist to determine treatment recommendations. We then discuss them with you to help you find the right option that meets your needs.
Cancer-Related Fertility Preservation: Treatments We Offer
When you come to the Fertility & Reproductive Medicine Center for fertility preservation, we will tailor a treatment to match your health and future fertility goals. Options we may recommend for you include:
- Oocyte (egg) cryopreservation (freezing): For women who cannot or wish not to preserve embryos (fertilized eggs), egg freezing is an option. This procedure allows you to preserve your eggs and have them fertilized at a later date. We use fertility medications to stimulate your ovaries to produce several eggs, harvest them using a simple needle aspiration procedure and then cryopreserve them.
- Embryo freezing: You can use your partner’s or a donor’s sperm to fertilize several of your eggs and freeze them for later use. We use fertility medications to produce several eggs, harvest them, fertilize them and then freeze the resulting embryos.
- Ovarian tissue freezing: In this procedure, our doctors remove a tiny piece of ovarian tissue and freeze it. After you complete cancer treatment, the tissue is thawed and transplanted back into your ovary. This method can be a good choice for girls who have not yet gone through puberty or women who cannot postpone cancer treatment long enough to harvest eggs for oocyte or embryo freezing.
- Medical suppression: Using medications such as leuprolide (Lupron) to suppress ovulation (egg production by the ovaries) may help protect the ovaries from the toxic effects of chemotherapy. We may recommend medical suppression if embryo or egg freezing is not the right option for you.
- Sperm banking and freezing: Men may choose to freeze and store sperm prior to cancer treatment. Doctors use the banked sperm in the future to fertilize eggs via in vitro fertilization (IVF) or injecting sperm directly into the uterus (intrauterine insemination, or IUI).
To make an appointment with a Washington University fertility and reproductive medicine specialist at the Women & Infants Center, call 855.925.0631.