The word 'onco' is associated with anything related to cancer. Onco-freezing or oncofertility is defined as the process of freezing eggs or sperm before undergoing cancer treatment. It is a widely adopted procedure by those who want to have a biological child. Fertility experts recommend every individual of reproductive age who hopes to start a family in the future but has been diagnosed with cancer, to preserve their fertility either through egg or sperm freezing.
This has to be done before starting the cancer treatment such as chemotherapy, radiation, or surgery. Thus, onco-freezing ensures that your cancer diagnosis does not come in the way of you having a child of your own by preserving your fertility.
How does cancer affect fertility?
Why are cancer patients recommended to go for onco fertility? This is because cancer can adversely affect the fertility of a person and can even make him infertile. Even though cancer cure has shown tremendous progress and the number of cancer survivors is increasing, they still show higher rates of infertility. Radiation, chemo, and cancer surgery can have a negative impact on the number of eggs and sperm. Moreover, these treatments can also directly impact the health and function of the eggs and sperm.
In women, cancer treatments may lead to ovarian damage. This can potentially cause eggs to have genetic defects, resulting in early menopause, ovarian failure, and other fertility issues. In men, these treatments can affect the production of sperm and the secretion of testosterone. Cancer patients have to delay childbearing until their cancer is cured and even the cancer survivors are asked to wait for two to five years before conceiving to ensure a safe pregnancy.
Fortunately, today there are multiple options available to preserve your fertility. You are advised to seek an appointment with a fertility specialist after you are diagnosed with cancer.
What kind of fertility preservation does onco fertility offer?
Onco fertility mainly involves in vitro fertilization. Some of the methods utilized are as follows:
- Egg freezing: This is done to preserve a woman’s egg if she wishes to have a baby. Fertility drugs are taken to produce multiple eggs which are then harvested and frozen to use later. Egg freezing is the first step of in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycle or other fertility treatments.
- Embryo banking: The harvested eggs are fertilized with the male sperm for creating an embryo. The embryo is allowed to grow for a few days and later, frozen for implantation.
- Sperm banking: This refers to the freezing of sperm for later use. Multiple semen samples are collected in a sperm bank or fertility clinic and frozen over several days.
- In vitro maturation (IVM): In this process, several eggs are taken out from the uterus of a woman and matured later in the lab. This reduces the time as immature eggs can be obtained in a shorter time. This method can be helpful for patients who do not have much time before their cancer treatment begins.
- Testicular sperm extraction: It includes a minor surgical procedure where sperm is retrieved directly from the testes. The sperms are later frozen and stored for later use. This method is helpful when sperm cannot be released during ejaculation.
Benefits of egg freezing for cancer patients
The technology used in freezing eggs is called vitrification. It is like a pause button. If the eggs are taken out when you are 28 years old and you decide to use them when you are 45, the eggs will still behave like 28 years old. This amazing technology has helped many cancer survivors to have a child later. Freezing your eggs does not guarantee pregnancy but it still gives you a good chance. Many cancer survivors go through menopause or become infertile from treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation, thus producing no eggs.
What should people ask their fertility specialist during their initial appointment?
Some of the questions that every individual should ask their doctors before considering onco freezing include:
- What are the likely impacts of cancer treatment on my fertility?
- Is it safe for me to get pregnant after my cancer treatment is over?
- Do children born from cancer survivors are prone to increased risks of health problems?
- Can I take some measures to protect my fertility during cancer treatment?
Onco fertility gives everyone who has cancer the option to conceive and have a child of their own. However, it is not necessary for every cancer patient to freeze their eggs. There are other options that can allow them to have a family, such as egg donation or adoption. The important thing is to discuss with a fertility specialist and understand all your options before taking a call.
Book an appointment with Apollo Fertility today and consult highly experienced fertility experts to find the best option for you.
If you don't have any other underlying health conditions, then you can still get pregnant. However, it is recommended that you should have frozen your eggs or sperm, before undergoing cancer treatment.
Yes, you can become pregnant even after forty years of age. If you have already frozen your eggs and are in healthy shape, you should not face any issues with getting pregnant.
Doctors recommend waiting for at least two to five years before cancer survivors choose to have a baby.
If you want to have a biological child, doctors recommend you go for egg freezing since cancer treatment can affect fertility. But it is not necessary. You can opt for adoption or make use of donor eggs to have a baby.
Chemotherapy can affect the function and health of eggs and sperm, which might lead to a loss of fertility in some people.