The Dangers Of Chemotherapy
Chemotherapy is a life-saving treatment option for some cancer patients. The procedure involves a combination of drugs to prevent cancer cells from growing and dividing in the body. Despite the effectiveness of the treatment, chemotherapy can be aggressive on other healthy cells, leading to unwanted side effects. This could mean permanent damage to the reproductive organs for some fertile women. As a result, some doctors recommend egg freezing for women who still want to start or grow a family.
How chemotherapy impacts fertility
The impact of chemotherapy on fertility is often overlooked. Patients are usually focused on treating cancer rather than future fertility. However, some women are devastated to find that natural pregnancy is near impossible in some cases. Since estrogen and oocytes divide quickly, chemotherapy drugs can damage both processes. That means women are more likely to stop egg production. In some potent chemotherapy drugs, the patient can trigger early menopause.
Egg freezing before chemotherapy
Egg freezing is an effective method to preserve the chances of having a biological child. Women under 35 are some of the best candidates. Those who want to start or grow a family in the future or wish to delay family planning are strong candidates as well. The frozen eggs are then used in the future using in vitro fertilization (IVF) or surrogacy.
Understanding the egg freezing process
With egg freezing, time is crucial. First, a fertility clinic must work with the doctor treating cancer. If there is enough time before treatment to produce mature eggs, the patient will start taking hormone medication at the start of the menstrual cycle. The therapy helps the ovaries to produce more mature eggs. Once the eggs are ready, the fertility team extracts the eggs with a simple surgical procedure. The mature eggs are then frozen for future use. If chemotherapy treatment is time-sensitive, the clinic will consider removing immature eggs. The clinic can then try in vitro maturation (IVM) to get the eggs ready in the future.
Would egg freezing work?
Egg freezing can preserve eggs for future use. However, the process is not 100% guaranteed. All the eggs would not be viable after thawing. Despite this, egg freezing is an excellent option for cancer patients who want a chance at pregnancy. Pregnancy rates can be as high as 60%. Success rates depend on age, the number of eggs, and the patient’s health after treatment. The patient, doctor, and fertility team must work together to decide if egg freezing before chemotherapy is the right choice.