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Cancer Treatment and Its Effect on Fertility

Cancer Treatment and Its Effect on Fertility


Cancer treatments can have a negative impact on many aspects of a person's health, including their fertility. While cancer treatment does not always cause infertility to occur, in can pose some fertility issues that may cause problems with conception. By learning what effects cancer treatment can have on the reproductive system and what treatments can pose a lesser risk to fertility, a person can improve the chance they have of getting through treatment without any infertility risk.

Cancer Treatment and Its Effect on Women's Fertility

If a woman must undergo cancer treatment before the age of 30, she will have a much better chance of having healthy fertility to be able to conceive. Chemotherapy and radiation treatment that is used to treat cancer will generally damage eggs and can cause infertility to occur. There are some drugs that are used in chemo that are less likely to contribute to infertility, so if your fertility is a concern, you may want to discuss using one of these medications with your doctor, rather than a medication that is more likely to effect fertility.

It is typically not advisable for a woman to attempt to become pregnant for at least six months to a year after they receive their chemotherapy treatment. Since chemo can damage healthy ova, there is a risk that a pregnancy conceived with damaged eggs will result in a miscarriage or a fetus with a genetic defect. For this reason, many doctors recommend a waiting period after cancer treatment, and perform tests on ova to determine if they are healthy and suitable for conception.

Cancer Treatment and Its Effect on Men's Fertility

In cases where young boys have to undergo cancer treatment, chemotherapy can have a profoundly negative effect on their future fertility. Chemotherapy can effect the stem cells in the testicles that produce sperm. If this occurs, than the chance of the boy producing mature sperm cells as a man decreases. In cases where the boy receives both chemotherapy and radiation treatment, higher levels of damage will be done, which may cause a more severe level of infertility.

In men that have already went through puberty, the risk that cancer treatment can pose on their fertility will vary depending on which type of medication is used during the chemo. Chemotherapy can cause sperm production to drastically decrease or even halt completely. If the chemotherapy is completed and the cancer goes into remission in men that are otherwise healthy, normal sperm production will generally resume within four years of treatment.

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