Fertility Preservation for Women Diagnosed with Cancer

Ask Your Doctor

Information for Patients

Understanding there are fertility preservation options available and seeing a reproductive specialist in a timely manner can improve your emotional outlook and future quality of life.



Many women who have been diagnosed with cancer think preserving their fertility is important and want information about their options. However,

  • You may not feel comfortable bringing up fertility issues.
  • You may not be aware of your options for preserving fertility.
  • You may be focused on your cancer diagnosis and unable to think about fertility or the possibility of having a future family.

You may later regret not considering fertility issues prior to starting cancer treatment.

Even women with a poor prognosis may want to consider fertility preservation.

Ask Your Doctor

These key points can help start the conversation:

  • How will my cancer and cancer treatment affect my fertility?
  • Based on my treatment plan, what is my risk of infertility [high, moderate, low]?
  • What are my options for fertility preservation before I begin cancer treatment (see table below)?
  • Can you refer me to a fertility preservation specialist to discuss my options further?

The American Society of Clinical Oncology and American Society for Reproductive Medicine recommend, when possible, at-risk patients should see a fertility preservation specialist prior to starting cancer treatment.

The following table gives a brief description of options available to women who wish to preserve their fertility. Discuss available options with your doctor.

Several resources are listed below and can help you locate a fertility preservation specialist.

Remember there are other ways to build a family after cancer if you are unable to preserve your fertility now. Talking with a specialist can help you explore other options that might be right for you.

Fertility Preservation - Where Does It Fit?

Options for Fertility Preservation


Option Definition Timing Time Requirement Other Considerations

Embryo Banking


Ovarian stimulation; Harvesting eggs, IVF and freezing of embryos Before or after treamtment 10-15 days outpatient surgical procedure Need partner or sperm donor
Egg Banking  Ovarian stimulation; Harvesting and freezing of unfertilized eggs Before or after treamtment 10-15 days outpatient surgical procedure  
Ovarian Tissue Banking (Experimental) Surgical removal of ovarian tissue and processing of tissue for freezing Before or after treamtment Outpatient surgical procedure Autotransplantation of tissue has produced live births; studies ongoing for IVFM
Radiation Shielding Use of shielding to reduce scatter radiation to the ovaries During treatment  In conjunction with radiation treatments Does not protect against effects of chemotherapy
Ovarian Transposition Surgical reposition of ovaries out of radiation field Before treatment Outpatient procedure  
Radical Trachelectomy Surgical removal of the cervix with preservation of the uterus Before treatment  Inpatient surgical procedure Limited to early stage cervical cancer
Ovarian Suppression (Experimental) GnRH analogs used to suppress ovaries During treatment  In conjunction with chemotherapy Data are mixed on the effectiveness of this option.



For more information about infertility risk and fertility preservation options for men diagnosed with cancer: