Breast cancer treatment has many side effects, however, in women of child-bearing age there may be unique side effects regarding fertility. During cancer treatment, fertility, the ability to have children, may be negatively affected. As cancer continue to affect women under 40, this is a growing and important concern. Chemotherapy, targeted, radiation therapy, and surgery may all impact your ability to have children.

Chemotherapy and radiation therapy may damage the ovaries while targeted therapy’s impact on the reproductive organs is less understood. Additionally, scar tissue from radiation therapy or surgery may cause infertility. If your uterus or ovaries during treatment, fertility would also be lost. Chemotherapy may also trigger periods to stop and menopause to begin early.

It can be frightening and frustrating for women to become infertile or find fertility more challenging as a result of breast cancer treatment. You should discuss your options regarding fertility before beginning any treatment of breast cancer. When your doctor understands your concerns or wishes, you will be better prepared to protect your fertility.

Preserving your fertility may be achieved through different ways, primarily in storing embryos or protecting the ovaries. When storing your embryos, eggs are collected during your menstrual cycles and frozen. These frozen eggs may be stored fertilized or unfertilized. After your treatment is concluded and you decide you want to have children, your eggs will be unfrozen and planted into the uterus. Protecting the ovaries is done by shutting down the ovaries with drugs during chemotherapy. The goal of these drugs is to lower the chance of ovarian damage.

If you are preparing for breast cancer treatment and want to consider your fertility after treatment, speak with your doctor. To learn more about infertility with breast cancer, click here.

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