Cancer treatment could affect your fertility. However, there are ways to preserve your fertility if you want to have the option to have children in the future. Now is the time to talk with your cancer care team about your options.
In Vitro Fertilization
In vitro fertilization (known as IVF) is the most common assisted reproductive technology. Your eggs can be preserved in two different ways for use after cancer treatment. They are embryo freezing (cryopreservation) and egg freezing (oocyte cryopreservation).
The IVF cycle begins by taking injectable medicines for about 2 to 3 weeks. These medicines are used to stimulate your ovaries to produce multiple eggs.
The eggs mature in follicles in your ovaries. Ultrasound monitoring is used to follow the growth of these follicles.
When the eggs are ready, the doctor uses transvaginal ultrasound to guide a needle through your vagina into the follicles in your ovaries. The doctor retrieves the eggs and fluid from the follicles through the needle.
After your eggs are removed, there are two ways to preserve them.
- Embryo freezing. Your eggs are fertilized in the lab, frozen and stored as embryos.
- Egg freezing. Your unfertilized eggs are frozen that same day. This method requires the same amount of time as embryo freezing.
Depending on where you are in your menstrual cycle or if you are already on birth control pills, your eggs can be removed in 2 to 3 weeks.
Deciding if IVF is right for you will depend on:
- the stage of your cancer
- the length of your treatment
- personal choice.
Your cancer care team will refer you to see a fertility doctor to learn more about fertility preservation and find out if it is right for you.
You may also want to talk with your cancer care team about medicines that may protect your ovaries during some types of chemotherapy. They may increase the chance of fertility after your treatment.
Source: Allina Health Cancer Care Team
Reviewed by: Allina Health Cancer Care Team
First published: 8/7/2019
Last reviewed: 3/21/2023