If the cancer you have or its treatment might have an affect on your fertility, you may be told there are options for treatment to preserve it.
Preserving fertility in men
I went to a sperm bank about five times before chemotherapy started, because there’s a possibility that it can affect fertility. I still don’t know if it has or not, but it’s very nice to know that there is sperm frozen if I am infertile down the line.
It’s difficult to predict whether treatment will affect your fertility or whether fertility will return after treatment. Even if your chances of becoming infertile are low, you may be referred to a fertility specialist to discuss your options. Freezing and storing sperm is a common and safe technique.
We have more information about cancer treatment and fertility, which has been written for men of all ages.
Preserving fertility in women
If you are having periods, it may be possible to freeze and store embryos (fertilised eggs) before cancer treatment begins. This might be done even if the treatment is unlikely to affect your fertility. To store embryos, your eggs need to be fertilised with sperm from your partner. Before eggs are fertilised and stored, both of you must sign a consent form.
Neither person can use the embryo to start a pregnancy without the other person’s permission. If you split up in the future and one person withdraws their consent, the other person cannot use the embryos.
If you don’t have a partner, or you are concerned that you might split up with your partner in the future, you may be able to store frozen, unfertilised eggs. In the past, the chance of getting pregnant using stored, unfertilised eggs was very low. This is because the technology used to freeze the eggs wasn’t very good. However, a newer technology called vitrification has improved this. Vitrification is now just as effective as using fresh eggs.
Not all IVF units can do vitrification, so it’s important to speak to an IVF specialist who can offer this.
We have more information about cancer treatment and fertility, which has been written for women of all ages.