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How Cancer Treatments Can Affect A Woman’s Fertility

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.

Chemotherapy 

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.

Radiation

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.

Surgery

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.

Hormonal therapy

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.

Emerging treatments

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.

How Cancer Treatments Can Affect A Woman’s Fertility

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.

Chemotherapy 

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.

Radiation

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.

Surgery

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.

Hormonal therapy

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.

Emerging treatments

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.

About Dr. Gia Pastorfide

Dr. Gia C. Pastofide obtained her pre-medical degree in BS Psychology from the University of the Philippines – Diliman, where she graduated magna cum laude.

She had her residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at UP-PGH, her fellowship in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility with a focus on In Vitro Fertilization and Minimally Invasive Surgery at the National University Hospital in Singapore, her fellowship in Reproductive Medicine at The University of Tokyo Hospital, and her Masters in Reproductive Medicine and Clinical Embryology at The Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Presently, Dr. Gia is the Medical Director of Victory ART Laboratory, a clinical associate professor at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at UP-PGH, and an active consultant at Makati Medical Center and Cardinal Santos Medical Center.

About Dr. Gia Pastorfide

Dr. Gia C. Pastofide obtained her pre-medical degree in BS Psychology from the University of the Philippines – Diliman, where she graduated magna cum laude.

She had her residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at UP-PGH, her fellowship in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility with a focus on In Vitro Fertilization and Minimally Invasive Surgery at the National University Hospital in Singapore, her fellowship in Reproductive Medicine at The University of Tokyo Hospital, and her Masters in Reproductive Medicine and Clinical Embryology at The Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Presently, Dr. Gia is the Medical Director of Victory ART Laboratory, a clinical associate professor at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at UP-PGH, and an active consultant at Makati Medical Center and Cardinal Santos Medical Center.