Many health concerns and their treatment, including cancer, genetic disorders and autoimmune diseases, may affect fertility. If you intend to have children, it's important to know how a disease or disorder may affect your reproductive abilities — especially before you begin treatment. There are a number of alternatives for men and women facing health concerns or treatment that may compromise fertility.
- Egg freezing — Women at risk of ovarian failure from cancer treatment or medical conditions can have their unfertilized eggs preserved for later use.
- Medication — If doctors determine that chemotherapy would damage a woman’s ovaries, medication may be used to temporarily shut down ovarian function, making them less susceptible to chemotherapy drugs.
- In vitro fertilization — IVF uses an egg and sperm to create an embryo outside the woman's body. Embryos can be frozen and not transferred to the woman’s uterus until after she has completed treatment.
- Ovary transposition — To prevent damaging the ovaries during cancer radiation therapy, surgery can be performed to move the ovaries out of the way of the radiation beam.
- Sperm freezing — Cryopreservation is a safe and effective means for preserving a man's sperm before cancer or other medical treatment.
- Testicular tissue freezing — For men who can no longer produce sperm or ejaculate, sperm can be retrieved from testicular tissue. The tissue can be removed and frozen until a man is ready for a child.