How to Preserve your Fertility After Ovarian Cancer

Apr 28, 2022 | Fertility Stories

When you receive a cancer diagnosis, a part of your life is put on hold, mainly with ovarian cancer, if you dream of becoming a mother one day in your life. If you have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer , and you’d like to get pregnant, you should know that there are ways for you to preserve your fertility before your treatment starts. Hence, it would be best to talk about your options with your doctor.

With an ovarian cancer diagnosis, you might pass through three emotional stages that are entirely normal, and you should not deny any of these as they are an essential part of the process. First, you might go into shock and denial, then the why, and eventually, the revolt.

This revolt comes from the theft of your dream of motherhood and anger at going through treatments, possible surgeries, and not knowing the outcome.

As a result, many women opt for solitude, for silence, because in some way they don’t know how to deal with the whirlwind of feelings that fills their bodies. 

Others run after solutions and ways to overcome the disease and fulfill the desire to be a mother.

If you’re looking for solutions, we will cover here some ways that you can preserve your fertility before starting your ovarian cancer treatment and that you should discuss with your doctor.

Techniques for being a mother after ovarian cancer 

Techniques for being a mother after ovarian cancer

Ovarian cancer is much rarer in the reproductive age. Most cases are discovered when the woman is over 50. When the disease occurs in women of reproductive age, it is usually unilateral; it is possible to preserve one of the ovaries. However, there is a risk of the healthy ovary being affected by cancer between 5 and 10 years after the end of treatment, so the recommendation is that pregnancy occurs soon after treatment – especially if the disease is initial (stage I), in which the organ is not removed, and only chemotherapy and radiotherapy are performed.

Oocyte cryopreservation:

Women can preserve their fertility through a technique that guarantees reasonable survival rates of oocytes for future use – vitrification.

Through this method, the harvested oocytes are rapidly cooled to a temperature of -196ºC, which prevents the formation of ice crystals responsible for damaging the cell after thawing. This treatment requires ovarian stimulation and follicular puncture.

Ovarian tissue cryopreservation:

It consists of extracting a fragment of the ovarian surface through minimally invasive surgery (laparoscopy). The procedure lasts approximately twenty minutes, and the patient can return home and even begin chemotherapy a few hours later. If the patient has an ovarian failure, this tissue can be reimplanted in a new procedure, recovering its functionality again, both from fertility and hormone production (reversing the menopause that often occurs after oncologic treatments). It also allows for spontaneous pregnancy without resorting to In Vitro Fertilization techniques.

Cryopreservation of embryos:

Embryo freezing can be an option. It is necessary to increase hormonal stimulation (usually in the form of daily injections) to increase the production of normal oocytes. Then your oocytes are harvested (and surgically removed) in the laboratory with your partner’s (or a donor’s) sperm, and this process is called in vitro fertilization or IVF. The embryos are frozen until you need them.

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Can getting pregnant after cancer treatments cause any problems?

Generally speaking, it is safe after cancer treatments and when the woman is in remission. In addition, studies show that pregnancy does not cause recurrence of the cancer disease.

However, your doctor may suggest that you wait six months or more after the end of treatments to try to get pregnant. This is because cancer disease is more likely to recur in the first two years after treatments. However, some cancer treatments can cause future heart or lung problems and complicate pregnancy. 

It is important to know that ovarian cancer is more common in older women, and its symptoms are probably due to something other than the disease itself.

Therefore, it is essential to get tested, just in case. Call your doctor and signal your concerns. “Schedule a visit and ask, ‘Could it be my ovaries?”

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