Breast Cancer Treatment & Fertility: What to Know
If you’re a young woman who’s been diagnosed with breast cancer, you’re not alone – 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with the disease during their lifetime. The diagnosis alone can be overwhelming, so the news that your plans of having a family in the future may be in jeopardy can make it feel even more heart wrenching. But does undergoing treatment for breast cancer mean you will be rendered infertile? In their latest blog post, the fertility experts of IVF FLORIDA’s south Florida fertility clinics discuss which common breast cancer treatments can impact your fertility, and what fertility preservation options are available to you if they will.
Chemotherapy & Infertility
One of the most common breast cancer treatments, chemotherapy carries one of the highest risks of temporary or permanent infertility in women undergoing treatment for breast cancer. Depending on the doses, chemotherapy drugs, and the woman’s age, chemotherapy can cause a women to go into menopause early. Women who are over 40 when beginning treatment, or who need high doses are more likely to go into menopause as a result of chemotherapy. There are also certain chemotherapy drugs which are known to carry a higher risk of infertility in women. For women who need chemotherapy to treat their breast cancer and hope to have children in the future, it is important to speak with your oncologist and a fertility specialist to go over your options.
For some women, temporary or permanent ovarian shutdown can be necessary to treat their hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer. This can be done using either medication or surgery. For women who are given medication to cause ovarian shutdown, they may experience temporary infertility which often resolves itself once they stop taking the medication. Other women, however, need to have their ovaries removed entirely, which causes permanent infertility. If you will need to have your ovaries surgically removed and would like to preserve your fertility, speak with your oncologist and contact the fertility specialists of IVF FLORIDA to learn more about preserving your fertility for the future.
Radiation & Hormone Therapy
The good news for women who have breast cancer that can be treated using radiation? The treatment likely won’t have an impact on their future fertility. Studies have shown that the small amounts of radiation that may scatter from the breast will likely have little or no impact on the immature eggs in your ovaries.
However, for women who are undergoing hormone therapy for their breast cancer, it may be more difficult to achieve a pregnancy after treatment. The medications used often cause your periods to become irregular or stop, and may also keep your ovaries from producing more eggs. And while most women who are fertile before undergoing hormone therapy will have their fertility return to normal after stopping treatment, others have reported difficulty achieving a pregnancy afterwards.
Fertility Preservation Options
So what can you do if you want to have children in the future but will need treatment that can cause you to become infertile? Women today are able to undergo fertility preservation treatment to store eggs or embryos for future use. It is important for women to discuss these options with their oncologist and, if medically advisable, schedule an egg retrieval cycle before starting cancer treatment.
For women who are facing a cancer diagnosis, facing possible infertility on top of cancer treatments can be overwhelming – but it is important to plan for your future after beating cancer. If you are facing a cancer diagnosis and are concerned about your ability to have a child in the future, the fertility specialists of IVF FLORIDA are here for you. Contact us today at 866.770.2168 to speak with a member of our team and learn more about the fertility preservation options available to you.