As in any medical condition, it is always best to get your information from a doctor. Fertility and cancer are conditions that have many unknowns. Plus, women are provided less information about fertility than men, so it is one’s responsibility to ask the proper questions from the proper source.
The age factor
Fertility tends to decrease with age. Consequently, older women who have undergone cancer treatment may experience reduced fertility despite specialized interventions.
The effect of chemotherapy on fertility is determined by the type and dosage of the drugs administered. Generally, chemotherapy can harm the eggs in the ovaries. Alkylating drugs and nitrosoureas, which inhibit DNA replication and cancer cell reproduction, are more likely to cause infertility. Examples of such drugs include Ifosfamide, Cyclophosphamide, Melfalan, and Busulfan.
However, certain chemotherapy drugs have a lower likelihood of causing infertility. Anti-metabolites, which disrupt cancer cells’ ability to use folate to create DNA, fall into this category. Examples include Methotrexate, 5-fluorouracil (5-FU), and Bleomycin. It’s important to note that higher drug dosages are more likely to lead to infertility. Bone marrow and stem cell transplants, often requiring high drug doses, can also damage fertility.
High doses of radiation can destroy a woman’s eggs, potentially causing early menopause. Regardless of the radiation’s target, it can scatter within the body and affect reproductive organs. It is advisable to avoid pregnancy during radiation treatment, as radiation directed at the uterus may lead to miscarriage, low birth weight, or premature birth.
Surgical interventions in reproductive organs can result in infertility. A hysterectomy removes the uterus and eliminates a woman’s ability to carry a child. An oophorectomy removes the ovaries, where eggs are produced, rendering a woman infertile. A trachelectomy removes the cervix while preserving the uterus, allowing the possibility of pregnancy. Surgery on the fallopian tubes may lead to scarring and blockage, hindering fertilization.
Certain hormone treatments for breast cancer can impact a woman’s menstrual cycle, potentially causing cessation, with the possibility of returning after about six months unless the woman is nearing menopause. Tamoxifen, a medication used in breast cancer treatment, can increase fertility. However, avoiding pregnancy while taking it is advisable, as it may affect the baby.
Newer treatments like vaccines, immune therapies, and biological response modifiers may offer promising options for cancer treatment. However, their effects on fertility are not yet fully understood. If you have questions that could lead to more appropriate measures, consult a medical expert for guidance.