Strong radiation treatments can cause damage to a cancer patient’s reproductive organs. Damage can occur if the radiation is focused on the pelvic or abdomen area, the spine, or the entire body. Radiation can cause issues with a female’s menstruation cycle, which can make it difficult for the patient to carry a baby to term. For males, radiation is likely to cause their sperm count to drop, and may weaken the sperm.
There are a variety of different chemotherapy drugs that can be used to help a patient beat their cancer. These medications can have varying effects on the body, and some drugs are more likely to lead to infertility issues that others. For example, high-risk drugs like Cytoxann, Procarbazine, and Busulfan are all most likely to affect the reproductive organs. These drugs are also known to pause menstruation in females, and may cause early menopause.
In many cases, doctors may need to perform surgery in order to remove all traces of the cancerous cells. If the surgery involves the reproductive organs, it will likely impact the patient’s fertility. Other surgeries are known to affect fertility too, including surgery of the pelvic or abdomen area.
What to Do?
While the idea of becoming infertile after treatment may cause you to pause, there are now many different infertility treatments that can be used to prevent total sterilization. Approximately 85 to 90% of infertility cases are treated with drug therapy or surgical procedure. Males who have gone through puberty can store their sperm in a sperm bank, while females can freeze their eggs to preserve them. However, the best way to learn about your options is to talk to your doctor.
While infertility may be a touchy subject that can be difficult to bring up, it’s a comfort to know that infertility can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, or medical condition. In fact, couples between the ages of 29 to 33 with a normal functioning reproductive system have only a 20 to 25% chance of conceiving in any given month. That adds up to about one in every eight couples who have trouble with infertility. A visit to the local fertility center will give you peace of mind, and fertility experts will be able to explain all the infertility treatments that are available to you.