Whenever possible, men are advised to have some of their sperm
frozen (cryopreserved) in a sperm bank before cancer treatment. If you have had
cancer treatment in the past and have very low sperm counts, you may be able to
father a child using
assisted reproductive technologies called
intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) and
in vitro fertilization (IVF). In these, sperm are
collected then injected into your partner's egg, grown in the laboratory for a
few days, then transferred into her uterus. It is
possible that you still have immature, healthy sperm in your
testicles, which can be found and surgically removed
through a small incision (testicular biopsy), then used for ICSI.
Eggs don't survive cryopreservation as well as sperm do, so
fertility-preserving treatment options are more complicated and/or experimental
for women than for men. They include:
Delaying cancer treatment for a month or more,
and using in vitro fertilization (IVF) to produce
fertilized eggs (embryos or blastocysts) that can be
frozen for use in the future. IVF is only an option, though, for women who
don't have a type of cancer that is stimulated by estrogen. High estrogen levels
are necessary to stimulate egg production before harvesting them for IVF.
Having all or part of an ovary surgically removed and frozen. Some infertility clinics will
cryopreserve ovarian tissue for women who hope to use this experimental
procedure after cancer treatment, should it become available in the
Surgical placement of ovaries outside the radiation-affected area
of the body.
"Shutting down" the
pituitary with a gonadotropin-releasing hormone
agonist (GnRH-a) during chemotherapy to protect the egg supply.
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
March 19, 2010
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor.
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