Women suffering from cervical cancer may have a lot of questions related to whether they will be able to conceive a child in future or not. If you are one of them, you must know that women with cervical cancer can still get pregnant, depending on the treatment and stage of cancer. Here is a guide for you by Dr. Suparna Bhattacharya, Fertility Consultant at Nova IVF Fertility East, Uttam Kumar Sarani, Kolkata on how cervical cancer affects your fertility and ways to preserve fertility before it gets too late!
Impact Of Cervical Cancer On Fertility
Be it any cancer, it is difficult to get pregnant after receiving treatment. Methods like chemotherapy and radiation therapy can prevent women from becoming pregnant in future as they affect the womb and the ovaries. Your ability to conceive will depend on the type of treatment you receive. While early-stage cancers can preserve your fertility, advanced treatments will take that chance away.
Types of treatment & their impact on fertility
The treatment for cervical cancer depends on its stage and level of severity. If there are abnormal growths in the cervix, the woman will go through a cone biopsy, in which the cone-shaped area of the cervix will be removed, including the cancerous tissue. The treatment makes sure that no cancer remains in the cervix.
If you have undergone a cone biopsy, you can get pregnant in future as the treatment is done at a very early stage of cancer. But you will need to wait for at least 6-12 months before planning a pregnancy. However, after the treatment, there are chances of miscarriages, infertility, low birth weight and premature births, depending on the amount of tissue removed in cone biopsy.
Simple Or Radical Trachelectomy
Early-stage cervical cancer can also be treated with a radical trachelectomy in which the majority part of the cervix is removed, more than in a cone biopsy, but the lower portion of the uterus remains. After this surgery, women can get pregnant but are at risk of miscarriage and premature birth, also, normal delivery is not possible due to the stitched cervix.
At a later stage of cervical cancer, a hysterectomy is performed in which the uterus and the cervix are surgically removed. It can also include radiotherapy and chemotherapy which affects both the womb and the ovaries, causing early menopause. Your eggs will also be damaged during the procedure.
If not naturally, you can still get pregnant with assisted reproductive technologies (ART), if cancer treatment causes infertility. Before undergoing a hysterectomy, radiotherapy or chemotherapy, you can choose to freeze your eggs or embryos. This will allow you to conceive through in-vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment or other techniques (only if you have a uterus) in the future. In other cases, you may also consider choosing a surrogate.
If your cancer is treated during the early stage, you can conceive biologically or with IVF, IUI etc. In case, you have received chemotherapy treatment and radiotherapy, wait for at least 6 months to get pregnant after the treatments are completed as they can have many side effects.
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Coping With Cancer-Caused Infertility
Cancer in itself is a big issue to digest for people and knowing that your chances of getting pregnant are low can be more devastating. Even if you are not planning to conceive anytime soon, losing it can still be painful. If you have been diagnosed with cervical cancer, it is better to talk to a fertility specialist before receiving any treatment. You should talk to the specialist about the stage of your cancer, required treatment, its impact on your body and your chances of conceiving in future. You can also gather some information about the options available for you in case you become infertile. Try to share your experiences with women who have had similar experiences.
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