Fertility Preservation at a Glance

Infertility is a disorder of either gender’s reproductive organs that hampers the ability to create children. Nearly 10 percent of the reproductive-age population (6.1 million people) in the United States is infertile, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.

Fertility preservation helps women, men and children overcome infertility that may come with disease diagnoses – mainly cancer. Women suffering from other diseases, such as ovarian cysts, family history of early menopause, lupus, and Turner syndrome, and galactosemia, may also benefit from fertility preservation efforts.

Nearly a million reproductive-aged men and women receive cancer diagnoses annually in the U.S. and many of them have concerns about their fertility. Lifesaving cancer treatments may destroy eggs and sperm. The likelihood of reproductive damage depends on the type and duration of treatment. Of course, surgical removal of any of the reproductive organs due to cancer will cause infertility, but severe damage may come from radiation treatments or chemotherapy.

Although sperm production in men may recover after radiation or cancer drugs, a woman’s eggs do not recover. Egg loss is permanent and premature menopause may occur. Obviously, the first goal is to cure the cancer, even if the treatment causes sterility. However, there are several options that may help preserve fertility before and after cancer treatments.