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Ask about fertility options prior to cancer treatment

Ask about fertility options prior to cancer treatment

If you hope to get pregnant someday but are facing the difficult challenge of cancer treatment, make sure you talk to your doctor or another expert about ways to preserve your fertility.

A recent analysis of 23 studies published in the journal Psycho-Oncology found that as many as half of cancer patients of reproductive age don’t get adequate information about how their treatment could affect their fertility and how to preserve their option to have children in the future.

Many cancer patients suffer from temporary or even permanent fertility problems as a result of their disease or treatment. Options for preserving fertility include embryo banking, freezing and storing eggs, and medication.

Yet according to the analysis, fewer than half of clinicians in the studies analyzed referred patients worried about their fertility to reproductive specialists. One study suggested doctors frequently didn’t even know where to refer these patients to.

Doctor-talks-to-couple

It’s not clear why healthcare providers didn’t always properly help patients with fertility concerns. Lead author Dr. Shanna Logan told Reuters some doctors may be embarrassed to talk about it with patients or not see fertility as an important issue. Also, doctors don’t all have up-to-date information on oncofertility support, she said.

If you have cancer and are of reproductive age, make sure you talk about fertility with your doctor and ask to be referred to an expert such as a reproductive endocrinologist if necessary. And if you’re in remission from cancer, here’s what you need to know before you get pregnant.

Have you or someone you know experienced fertility challenges? Did you think the medical support was adequate?

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