Oncofertility – Atlanta Infertility Treatments

Cancer & Fertility

Cancer and cancer treatments can impact reproductive health, making it difficult or impossible to have a child in the future. Thanks to advancements in technology, we offer treatment before your cancer treatment to preserve fertility and keep your options for childbearing open.

Cancer Treatment Risks

Diminished ovarian reserve

One of the possible side effects of cancer treatment is diminished ovarian reserve (DOR). This condition results in a loss of eggs at a faster-than-expected pace. Having a low egg reserve can make conception much more challenging and can limit the ability to undergo some fertility treatments like In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). Chemotherapy and radiation therapy in the pelvic region are common causes of DOR.

Different chemotherapy regimens have different risks for causing DOR. Older women are more likely to be affected by DOR than are younger women. DOR may present as irregular menstrual cycles or the cessation of cycles, hot flashes, and/or vaginal dryness. The most extreme form of DOR is premature menopause.

Premature menopause

Premature menopause occurs when a woman has almost run out of her entire supply of eggs before the age of 40. In cancer patients, this can be caused by chemotherapy treatment or pelvic radiation. Symptoms of premature menopause include the absence of menstrual cycles, hot flashes, and vaginal dryness.

Uterine scarring

Pelvic radiation can cause scarring within the uterine cavity, making embryo implantation more challenging. Surgery may be required to correct the scarring. Severe cases may not respond to surgery and a gestational carrier may be needed to carry the pregnancy.

Hysterectomy may occur when cancer affects the cervix or uterus. If hysterectomy occurs, a gestational carrier would be required to carry the pregnancy. Embryos would be created via IVF and then transferred to the gestational carrier.

Fertility Preservation Options

Egg Freezing

Egg freezing is an option for any female who has reached puberty and is at risk of running out of eggs prematurely after cancer therapy. In the egg freezing process, a patient's ovaries are stimulated with hormone shots to produce multiple mature eggs at one time. The eggs are “retrieved” during a simple, outpatient procedure performed under light sedation. The eggs can then be frozen (“vitrified”) and saved until the patient is ready to use them.

Current data suggests that frozen-thawed eggs work just as well, especially in patients < 35 years old, as fresh eggs. The process of egg freezing requires 2-6 weeks and can be coordinated with a patient's cancer treatment schedule.

Sperm Freezing

For male patients diagnosed with cancer, there is the option of freezing sperm. Chemotherapy can compromise a man's sperm production, rendering him sterile in some cases. Freezing sperm is an easy and effective process that has been performed for many years. Frozen sperm can be used in the future in combination with intrauterine insemination or IVF.

Embryo Freezing

Embryo freezing is an option typically chosen by women who are in a committed, long-term relationship. Embryo freezing requires ovarian stimulation with hormone shots, retrieval of the eggs and then insemination of those eggs with the partner's (or donor) sperm. In this way, embryos are created, then frozen until the couple is ready to use them.

Donor Eggs

In cases where a patient has already been through cancer treatment and has experienced premature menopause or severe DOR, donor eggs can be used to create a successful pregnancy. These donor eggs, which have been screened extensively by ACRM, can be combined with sperm to create embryos. One of these embryos can then be transferred into the patient's uterus, resulting in very high pregnancy rates.

Gestational Carrier

For patients who are unable to carry a pregnancy, either due to damage or removal of the uterus, concerns regarding medical complications, or fear of stimulating regrowth of a previous cancer, a gestational carrier (GC) may be used. GCs are women who have previously carried pregnancies without complications. Embryos, created from the intended parents' eggs and sperm, can be transferred to the GC. This is a very effective and safe method of having a child when a patient cannot carry a pregnancy herself.

Financial Assistance for Fertility Preservation

ACRM is pleased to offer oncofertility services at a discounted rate. Additionally, we work with pharmacies and programs to reduce the cost of oncofertility medications needed by our patients.

To schedule a priority appointment, please contact ACRM at 678-841-1089 or 877-767-2276 and select the option to be connected to a new patient scheduler. You can also request an appointment online. Be sure to let us know if you are a cancer patient so that we can prioritize your appointment.

Watch ACRM's Dr. Lisa Hasty discuss fertility treatment options for cancer patients: