At Wilcox Fertility, for patients who come to us prior to cancer treatments, we want to assure you that we understand your situation. We are prepared to explain all of your options, work with your oncologist and help you achieve your goal of starting (or growing) your family after treatment.
If you’re hoping of either starting or expanding your family, it’s important to understand that a cancer diagnosis can potentially affect your fertility in two ways:
- The cancer itself, such as testicular cancer or uterine cancer, may relate to your reproductive organs as well as glands responsible for producing fertility related hormones.
- The treatment recommended for your cancer could possibly damage the organs needed to reproduce. They also may need to be removed to protect your overall health. For example, women may need to have a hysterectomy should they have cervical cancer or men may need to remove both testes due to testicular cancer, which would prevent him from producing sperm.
Below, we will provide a high-level overview of fertility preservation options for men and women to consider, discuss with their oncologist and speak with Dr. Wilcox about so we can decide what works best for your family building goals:
For Men: Fertility preservation (also known as sperm banking) for men involves collecting and freezing sperm prior to beginning cancer treatment. The sperm can later be thawed and used to fertilize eggs of a partner when they are ready to start a family. Semen is obtained through masturbation. It’s typically recommended that we collect approximately three to four samples before the start of chemotherapy, with 24 – 72 hours of abstinence before and between each collection.
For Women: Fertility preservation (also known as egg freezing) for women involves retrieving eggs before beginning cancer treatment. You can read more about this procedure by visiting our “Egg Freezing” page.
Ovarian Tissue Freezing: Ovarian tissue freezing is a relatively new fertility preservation technique that involves the freezing and storage of tissue from the ovarian cortex. This is not currently something we offer but Dr. Wilcox is happy to discuss it further.
Embryo Freezing: If you are in a relationship, an option you can explore is embryo freezing. Similar to sperm or egg freezing, this involves the freezing and storing of embryos. It’s similar to IVF but the embryos are immediately frozen using the vitrification process for later use.
Post Treatment Options: Once your cancer treatment is complete, you have different avenues you can explore. If you were able to freeze sperm, eggs, or embryos, once you have been given the “all clear” by your oncologist, they can be thawed and used. There are also other available options such as third-party family building, (using an egg donor and/or gestational surrogate), which includes the use of donated eggs, sperm, or embryos.
For more information on the numerous fertility treatments and family building options offered at Wilcox Fertility, please continue to review other areas of our site or to inquire about financial information, please don’t hesitate to contact us via our online form or call us at 626.657.9327.