If you are affected by cancer, you may be thinking, “How will this affect my ability to have children?” It is normal to be concerned over the effect of cancer, or more specifically cancer treatments, on the future of your family. Cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy or radiation, can affect fertility by damaging organs involved in reproduction or hormone production as well as by impacting sperm production. For cancer patients hoping for children in the future, we recommend discussing the following options with your doctor.
Consider preserving sperm, oocytes (unfertilized eggs), and/or embryos. This option is recommended before cancer treatment, due to the potential genetic damage treatment can have. When individuals and couples are ready for children, these can be unfrozen and used for intrauterine insemination (IUI) and in vitro fertilization (IVF).
Consider egg/sperm donors to help build your family. Cancer treatments may cause infertility by affecting sperm count in men as well as the function of ovaries in women. If you are unable to preserve gametes or embryos, donors can assist you in expanding your family.
For women whose cancer or cancer treatment has affected their ability to bear a child, traditional or gestational surrogacy is a great option. Surrogacy is the process in which a woman carries a child for another woman. Traditional surrogacy uses an egg that is of the surrogate mother while gestational surrogacy uses an egg that is of the intended mother or a donor.
Here at RSMC, we will be there for you along your journey to expand your family. We understand cancer sucks, but it shouldn’t prevent you from your dreams of having a larger family.