Published : 2022/11/21 at 2:11 pm

One in eight women will develop an invasive form of breast cancer over their lives. Before starting breast cancer therapy, doctors frequently advise looking into fertility preservation options like embryo cryopreservation.

However, a lot of women are concerned about breast cancer and assisted reproductive technology (ART). They could be concerned about how fertility treatments might affect their ability to conceive and whether those treatments might make their cancer worse or come back. Even though some studies have suggested a connection between ART and an elevated risk of breast cancer, particularly for women over the age of 40 and those in their mid- to early 20s, their results are inconsistent, and additional investigation is required. The idea that there is even the slightest connection between IVF and breast cancer has been disproved by numerous credible studies.

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In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) and Cryopreservation

Fertilized eggs are preserved by freezing (cryopreservation) for future use. It frequently goes with fertility procedures that result in embryos, like in vitro fertilization (IVF). Additionally, it can help with future pregnancies and fertility preservation. Examples include someone undergoing cancer treatment or transitioning to a different gender.

 

What is Cryopreservation?

Cryopreservation, another name for the process of freezing and storing embryos, is known as embryo freezing. An egg that has been fertilized by a sperm is called an embryo. People can benefit from this procedure in terms of reproduction and fertility.

 

Why would a human embryo be frozen?

After people have therapies to try to get pregnant, embryo freezing frequently takes place. Examples include intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) and in vitro fertilization (IVF).

These techniques create more embryos by fertilizing eggs with sperm. Choosing to freeze excess embryos for future use is an option if:

  • After an egg has already been fertilized, postpone or refuse implantation into your uterus.
  • I want to postpone IVF (Best IVF Treatment Centers in Lucknow) till later.
  • want a backup plan in case your initial reproductive treatments don’t work.
  • Instead of disposing of unused embryos, opt to give them to researchers or other women who are trying to conceive.

Another method of preserving fertility is embryo freezing. For instance, a cancer patient who is a woman or a person designated as female at birth (DFAB) may choose to rescue fertilized eggs before beginning chemotherapy or radiation therapy if such treatments may impair their capacity to conceive. Before beginning hormone treatments for the transition or getting gender-affirming surgery, a transgender guy (who is transitioning to male) may also preserve eggs or embryos.

 

How Breast Cancer Treatments Affect Fertility

There is no accurate test to determine whether you can still become pregnant after your cancer treatment is over. It is more likely that you will experience a permanent menopause if your periods stop for a year or more. If your menopause lasts forever, you won’t be able to conceive naturally.

Before beginning breast cancer treatment, discuss fertility and family planning with your treatment team if being able to have children is essential to you. Your oncologist could advise you to consult a reproductive expert to go over your alternatives.

Surgery or radiotherapy to the ovaries and fertility: Permanent infertility is brought on by ovarian surgery and/or radiotherapy. If a woman has her ovaries surgically removed or receives radiation therapy then she will not be able to conceive naturally.

 

fertility and chemotherapy

Some chemotherapy medications can make a woman infertile. Once chemotherapy is over, some women (typically those under 35) discover that their periods have returned. This does not, however, imply that they are able to procreate.

The age of the woman and the medications she receives are two factors that affect how chemotherapy affects fertility. Additionally, these effects can differ between various women of the same age.

 

What benefits do embryo cryopreservation offer?

Embryo freezing may be able to assist those who are currently having difficulty getting pregnant:

  • Getting older
  • gender change.
  • fertility problems.
  • social or personal factors, such as if you’re pursuing a higher education or have work commitments and intend to put off getting pregnant for a while.
  • Medications that might harm fertility (for example, chemotherapy or pelvic radiation therapy for cancer).
  • upcoming deployment of the military.
  • Women who are single may worry about aging and decide to freeze their eggs or the embryos they have created with donor sperm.

 

What are the possible side effects or hazards of this procedure?

Pregnancies that arise from embryo freezing do not run the risk of having congenital defects or other health issues. Preterm delivery, low birth weight, growth limitation, and perinatal mortality rates are reduced in frozen-thawed embryo outcomes study.

The following are the primary dangers of embryo cryopreservation:

  • damage caused by freezing to embryos.
  • unfrozen embryos that are not viable.
  • after thawing and implanting embryos, failure to become pregnant.
  • Preeclampsia and placenta accreta spectrum cases among other pregnancy-related medical conditions are on the rise.
  • births from more than one implanted embryo (twins or triplets).

Conclusion: Breast cancer treatments may permanently or temporarily lower fertility. This does not, however, imply that getting pregnant during or after therapy is impossible.

In general, hormonal forms of contraception like the oral contraceptive pill (often known as “the pill”), implants, or injections should not be used following breast cancer. Therefore, if you do not want to get pregnant, it’s advised that you use non-hormonal means of contraception such as condoms, diaphragms, intrauterine contraceptive devices (IUDs), or male or female sterilisation. Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can still be contracted after menopause. The best method of STI prevention is using condoms.

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