Two mothers holding babiesAlthough the incidence of breast cancer has increased dramatically, so have survival rates after breast cancer. This naturally leads to more survivors wanting to conceive after treatment.

Many women treated for breast cancer have concerns about loss of fertility after treatment. The drugs used to treat breast cancer can damage the ovaries, and/or can cause anovulation. They can also can bring on menopause earlier than normal, which limits the time for pregnancy.

Tamoxifen, a drug commonly used to treat breast cancer, often stops periods from coming while on it. Often periods return after treatment ends. However Tamoxifen can shorten the window of time to conceive. Tamoxifen does cause birth defects so women should not become pregnant while taking it. It is often taken for many years and over this treatment time, natural fertility may decline.

Periods may be lost permanently with other forms of chemotherapy. Certain chemotherapy combinations are more likely to cause permanent menopause than others. Women younger than 40 are less likely to have permanent ovarian damage after chemotherapy. The risk increases with age.

Before treatment begins it is a good idea to talk to a fertility doctor to discuss options.

Freezing eggs is one option. After treatment, the eggs can be thawed, fertilized and  implanted into the uterus. This procedure is very successful and rarely delays treatment. If you have a partner or donor sperm, freezing embryos also is a viable way to preserve your fertility. 

If you are facing this important diagnosis and want to discuss your options, please call us at 847-763-8850 or email northshorefertility@gmail.com.