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Preserving Fertility After a Cancer Diagnosis

Fortunately, medical science continues to develop effective treatments that can help you win the battle against cancer. Unfortunately, many of these life-saving therapies can impair your ability to conceive a child and experience a successful pregnancy.

Dr. Deborah Smith is an award-winning physician who is board-certified as a Reproductive Endocrinologist and infertility specialist, she and her team at Rocky Mountain Fertility Center, with offices in Parker, Colorado, and Rapid City, South Dakota, are well-known for their skill and high success rates in delivering state-of-the-art fertility treatments.

Dr. Smith’s extensive expertise includes fertility preservation for any man or woman with a cancer diagnosis. Here’s what she has to say about cancer, infertility, and the treatments available to safeguard your dream of having a child.

Cancer versus fertility

Cancer treatment may require surgical removal of the uterus, ovaries, testicles, or other reproductive organs. This obviously affects your ability to achieve and/or carry a healthy pregnancy.  However, radiation, chemotherapy, and other cancer therapies can also cause temporary or permanent infertility by affecting the sperm and egg. Some treatments do so by affecting the eggs and sperm directly. These effects may result in early menopause for women or cause problems related to sperm production or erectile dysfunction in men. 

Some treatments affect fertility only temporarily -- but “temporary” may mean years. Depending on a woman’s age at the time of cancer therapy, it may be more difficult to return to normal fertility due to age. A 20 year old  woman receiving cancer treatment that affects fertility for 10 years is more like to be fertile after treatment than a 35 yo woman with fertility effects for 10 years. 

Safeguarding fertility with cryopreservation

Avoiding cancer treatment for the sake of preserving fertility endangers your life and is certainly not recommended. Fortunately, freezing or  cryopreservation of sperm, eggs or embryos allows a fertility specialist to collect and store healthy embryos, eggs, or sperm before you begin treatment.

Cryopreservation was first used to “freeze” sperm in the early 1950s. The ability to collect and freeze a woman’s eggs (oocytes) was introduced 25 years later. In 1986, the world welcomed the first human child born via successful cryopreservation. 

Thanks to rapid advancements in technology and techniques, cryopreservation has undergone many innovative and successful improvements since its introduction. Many women who decide to delay pregnancy use the therapy to preserve healthy eggs while combating the tick-tock of their biological clocks.

For individuals facing cancer treatment, freezing/cryopreservation can provide the treatment you need to preserve fertility until the timing is right.

Communicating with your cancer treatment team

It’s important that you express your concerns about fertility when initially discussing treatment options with your oncologist and cancer care team. Timing is critical for cancer treatment as well as cryopreservation. At Rocky Mountain Fertility Center, we make every effort to communicate with your cancer specialists so we can provide effective treatment in a timely manner.  

For more information about preserving your fertility before beginning cancer treatment, schedule a visit at Rocky Mountain Fertility Center today.

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