Cervical Cancer’s Impact on Fertility
According to the American Cancer Society, this year in the United States, over 13,000 women will be diagnosed with Cervical Cancer. Luckily, advances in treatment have enabled women to survive and thrive after a cancer diagnosis. But these same therapies used to treat Cervical Cancer, while they improve patients’ chances of survival, have side effects that may negatively impact a woman’s fertility. Many of these women are in their prime reproductive years, leaving these women wondering how Cervical Cancer may affect their ability to have a child in the future.
Cervical Cancer Treatments & Infertility
Depending on how early it is caught, Cervical Cancer can be treated using procedures that can preserve a woman´s ability to have children in the future. For women with early-stage Cervical Cancer that has not spread, less aggressive forms of treatment that leave the uterus intact allow women to preserve their ability to carry a pregnancy.
For women with more aggressive forms of cancer, the need for chemotherapy and radiotherapy can dramatically affect a woman’s fertility. Chemotherapy, in particular, can cause premature ovarian failure or even early menopause. While some women will find their ovaries regain function after some time, older patients and those who have received higher levels of chemotherapy may never regain ovarian function. Women with the most aggressive forms of Cervical Cancer may need a hysterectomy, preventing them from carrying a pregnancy in the future.
Preserving Your Fertility
While treatment for Cervical Cancer can negatively impact your fertility, there are steps women can take to help preserve their fertility for the future. If time permits, women can meet with a Reproductive Endocrinologist to discuss fertility preservation options prior to beginning treatment.
Some options for fertility preservation prior to treatment include egg banking, embryo banking, and ovarian tissue banking. These options all provide women with the ability to have biological children in the future, either carrying the child themselves or utilizing a gestational carrier. Patients seeking to utilize any of these options prior to beginning cancer treatment should consult with their oncologist to determine if they are a viable candidate.
Unfortunately, some women are unable to see a fertility specialist prior to beginning treatment. While this means they may not be able to have genetically related children, they have other paths to parenthood. For patients who did not need to have a hysterectomy, donor eggs can be used to facilitate a pregnancy. If a patient had a hysterectomy, the use of donor eggs in combination with a gestational carrier can help them realize their dreams of family.
With so many advances in treatment, many more women are leading long and healthy lives post-diagnosis. For many of these women, the ability to build a family is integral to their future happiness. If you are facing a cervical cancer diagnosis and would like to learn more about the fertility preservation options available to you, please contact us at 866.770.2168 or schedule an appointment today.