I have always been in pretty good health, so I was surprised one day when my doctor told me my blood pressure was a bit high. She told me to begin watching my salt intake, start exercising, and to try to relax. Well, I intended to follow her advice when I left her office, but the next day I was back to my same habits. I kept using the salt shaker and didn't begin an exercise routine like I had planned. When I went for my next check-up, she told me that my blood pressure was even higher and approaching a dangerous level. I had to begin a blood pressure medication to manage it. I wanted to create a blog to share my story and remind people to listen to their doctors' advice. If a few lifestyle changes can improve your health, then you should make them.
At a recent doctor's appointment, you experienced the worst day of your life thus far when a trusted physician diagnosed you with cancer. Without warning, the direction of your life suddenly and violently changed course. Almost immediately, you began to worry about your future ability to bear children. If you can relate to this scenario, you may wish to learn more about the following 4 ways to preserve your fertility during cancer treatment.
Today, advances in treatments allow many people to win their battles with cancer and go on to live happy and productive lives. Unfortunately, many cancer treatments still cause devastating side effects such as infertility in some patients. Some common cancer treatments that can negatively affect a woman's chances of childbearing include:
Radiation treatment that encompasses the entire body
Radiation therapy that only targets an area vital to reproduction like the uterus, ovaries, or pelvis
Certain chemotherapy drugs including Matulane, Leukeran, and Alkeran
Surgery that involves taking out genital lymph nodes
Surgery that involves removing one of the reproductive organs, such as an ovary or the cervix
One of the most popular ways of protecting fertility during one of the aforementioned cancer treatments is embryo freezing. This process entails:
Taking fertility drugs for a period of at least 2 weeks
Having your eggs saved and inseminated by sperm in a laboratory setting
Freezing your embryos in the laboratory until you are able to get pregnant
A similar option to embryo freezing is egg freezing. With this method, your eggs are frozen before coming into contact with sperm. While this technique's success rate isn't as high as embryo freezing, it can be accomplished without the aid of a male partner or donor. Therefore, egg freezing is often a great option for single women.
Depending on the type of cancer you have, your physician may recommend that you undergo radiation therapy to your pelvic area. If you require this kind of treatment, but will not need chemotherapy, ovarian transposition might help you retain your fertility. During this fertility protecting measure, a surgeon will move your ovaries to a different location, away from the future radiation treatments.
In order to conceive after ovarian transposition, you may need to:
Undergo in vitro fertilization, or IVF, in a laboratory
Have a second surgery where your ovaries will again be moved to a different location
While ovarian transposition is an option for women whose cancer treatment involves radiation, ovarian suppression is often performed on women who take chemotherapy. This fertility protecting technique will require you to endure shots that provide your body with the hormone gonadotropin, also known as GnRH.
This hormone preserves a female's fertility by preventing the ovaries from functioning during chemotherapy. This form of treatment:
Is administered once each month
Is first administered around 2 to 4 weeks in advance of chemotherapy
Costs around 500 dollars per injection
Is an experimental procedure with an unknown rate of success
For women suffering from cancer of the cervix, radical trachelectomy can be a fertility saving cancer treatment. During radical trachelectomy, a surgeon removes a woman's genital lymph nodes and cervix. However, to retain fertility, her ovaries and uterus are kept.
While women can become pregnant after this procedure, they:
Face greater odds of suffering a miscarriage
Have a higher probability of delivering babies early
Must deliver their babies by caesarean section
Receiving a cancer diagnosis at any age is an overwhelming experience. This is especially true for young women who still want to start families. Thankfully, the aforementioned 4 procedures can protect a woman's fertility while she undergoes cancer treatment. If you would like to learn more about these methods, make an appointment with your trusted local oncology expert.Share
15 January 2015