Fertility Information for You
Treatment options for colorectal cancer can include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. All three can significantly affect fertility. Colorectal cancer patients who wish to have biological children after treatment should inquire about fertility preservation before treatment begins. There are options available for patients to preserve their fertility.
What are my options?
Women and Men
Egg and embryo freezing
Egg freezing, also known as mature oocyte cryopreservation, is a method used to save women's ability to get pregnant in the future. Eggs harvested from your ovaries are frozen unfertilized and stored for later use
Ovarian transposition is a surgery that moves your ovaries out of the field of radiation. This will lower the amount of radiation your ovaries are exposed to during your radiation therapy.
Ovarian tissue freezing
The process of freezing ovarian tissue to save for future infertility treatment. Part or all of an ovary is removed, and the tissue that contains the eggs is cut into thin slices and frozen. The tissue may later be thawed and placed back into the woman's body, usually on the remaining ovary.
Ovarian suppression is the term used to describe treatments that stop the ovaries from making oestrogen, either permanently or temporarily.
The process of freezing sperm and storing it for future use. The sperm cells are then frozen and stored.
A procedure used to help keep a man fertile by preventing damage to the testicles during radiation therapy. A protective shield is placed over the scrotum (the external sac that contains the testicles) during radiation to the pelvic area.
Not all infertility journeys are exactly the same, each is personal based on your diagnosis and financial situation. Exploring options such as donor sperm, egg, and embryo may not have been how you thought you’d build your family.
Sperm, egg, and embryo donations
Egg or sperm donation allows one of the intended parents to keep the genetic link to the child. With egg donation, the intended parent is able to experience a biological connection to the child through the pregnancy. With embryo donation, there is no genetic link.
In a surrogate pregnancy, eggs from the woman who will carry the baby or from an egg donor are fertilized with sperm from a sperm donor to make an embryo. The embryo is implanted in the uterus of the surrogate mother, who carries the baby until birth.
International or domestic adoption
An adoption process is a wonderful option for building a family. Although you may have to delay your journey until you finish cancer treatments.
Those who are interested in adopting a foster child usually start by getting information from the local foster care agency where they live. In some localities the task of recruiting and approving adoptive homes has been contracted to private agencies. However, you are not limited to adopting a child from your local county agency but can apply to just about any foster care agency. There are websites that provide information about foster children available for adoption. Usually, there are no application fees and the home study and foster parent training is also free.
Navigating the emotional journey toward being happy in a life without children involves a process of grieving, it’s a loss of your dream. You may feel depressed, and your anguish is often, rarely understood. Outsiders incorrectly assume that people living childfree have chosen not to have them.
Identify and prioritize what you will do to nurture your maternal/paternal instincts. Give yourself the space to grow, always seek support from a medical professional to help you through the process of living child-free.
Sexual Function, Fertility, and Colorectal Cancer
Marielle McLeod, Certified Bilingual Patient & Family Support Navigator, Buddy Program Manager, and Stage III colon cancer survivor, and Kim Newcomer, Manager of N2Y and stage IV rectal cancer survivor, have an important discussion about what can be done to help preserve your sexual health during and after colorectal cancer with ally guests Jacen Roberts and Jennifer Ruddle.