It can be difficult to predict if cancer treatment will affect your fertility. Some women may be referred to a fertility clinic for advice before starting cancer treatment. This will depend on their age and type of cancer.
The doctors at the fertility clinic will explain treatments that may save (preserve) your fertility and help you get pregnant in the future. This is called fertility preservation. They will give you information about any risks of fertility treatments. They will also tell you how likely the treatments are to result in pregnancy. This can be a lot of information to take in. You may want to take notes or have some questions ready to ask the doctor. You may be offered counselling or further support to help.
Fertility preservation usually involves stimulating your ovaries with drugs to release more eggs than normal (ovarian stimulation). These eggs are then collected and frozen. This means that the eggs can be fertilised in the future using a partner’s sperm or donor sperm.
Or you may decide to have your eggs fertilised when they are collected. If this is successful, the embryos can be frozen. It is important to know that, if you have a partner who has provided sperm for this, he has equal rights in deciding what happens to the embryos in the future. If he withdraws the right for you to use the embryos, you will not be able to use them.
Even if you have a partner who can provide sperm, you can still choose to have unfertilised eggs frozen. Your partner has no say in how those eggs are used in the future.
Some women may have tissue removed from their ovary and frozen. This may be possible if you have to start cancer treatment quickly or you can’t have fertility drugs. It may also be suitable for girls who haven’t reached puberty.