Aspire Blog

How Cancer Treatments Affect Fertility and How To Preserve Fertility

Posted on May 15th, 2017

Cancer and cancer treatments often impact fertility. There can be temporary or permanent effects. There are numerous factors based on the type of cancer, the type of treatment, age at treatment and the length of time post-treatment. Oncofertility is a medical field that helps cancer patients conceive despite their diagnosis.

Fertility issues in female cancer patients issues can arise from damage to reproductive organs such as fallopian tubes, uterus, and cervix or damage to the ovaries which are essential to hormone production.

In men, fertility issues can be caused by damage to the endocrine glands or endocrine-related glands which release hormones such as the testes, thyroid, and adrenal glands can cause fertility issues. Also, any changes to the area of the brain that control the endocrine system.

What are My Preserve Fertility Options Before Cancer Treatment?

There are fertility preservation options available to both women and men. Women can freeze unfertilized eggs, called oocyte cryopreservation, or freeze fertilized eggs, called embryo cryopreservation. Men can freeze sperm which is known as cryopreservation or sperm banking.

It is important to meet with a reproductive endocrinologist to discuss your concerns with fertility before deciding on your course of treatment even if you are not certain if you want to have children.

Types of Cancer Treatments and Infertility

  • Radiation therapy involves high-energy rays to kill cancer cells which can also damage a woman’s ovaries. For men, radiation may kill sperms cells and also the stem cells that make sperm.
  • Surgical removal any reproductive organs for both males and females can cause infertility.
  • A majority of drugs used in chemotherapy damage a woman’s eggs and impact her fertility. For men, these drugs can lower the ability to make sperm or cause little or no production of semen.
  • Immunotherapy utilizes targeted drugs that enable the body’s immune system to fight cancer cells. There is not much research about these types of drugs and their effect on fertility.
  • Bone marrow or stem cell transplants involve radiation and chemotherapy to the entire body before transplant. These treatments result in a permanent stop to the release of eggs from the ovaries in women and the production of sperm in men.

Schedule a Consultation

We would love the opportunity to discuss oncofertility options with you in person. Schedule an appointment with one of our physicians and or email Aspire with any questions. You can also schedule an appointment at either clinic online or call the Houston Clinic at (713) 425-3003 and the Dallas Clinic at (214) 414-3806.


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