How likely will the ability to have a baby after radiation therapy? This is of great concern for patients who discovered cancer and forced to use radiation therapy to kill cancer cells.
It is undeniable that the ovaries are more likely to be affected after treatment, especially with radiotherapy in the pelvic position. But it depends on the case and the extent that may temporarily or permanently lose the chance of giving birth to a woman.
Radiation Therapy Affects Fertility
Radiation therapy is a popular treatment for cancer. Radiation therapy used is X-rays, Gamma rays, protons through external radiation therapy, close contact, or radiation chemotherapy injections into the body to kill cancer cells.
When radiotherapy is used to the abdomen and pelvis, the ovaries will be absorbed with these rays depending on the degree of impact on the ability to give birth after radiation therapy.
In cases where radiation therapy is used to target other organs but still have the ability to affect the reproductive organs because radiation is bounced back inside the patient's body.
Thus, in most cases, patients who use radiation therapy to destroy cancer cells will seriously affect fertility, even infertility.
But with modern methods, today there are still cases that if the radiation is far from the ovaries it is still possible to keep some eggs unaffected by the radiation area during the treatment.
How Fertility Is Affected With Radiation Therapy
Does radiation therapy affect fertility? Radiation therapy for cancer affects the reproductive organs in the following ways:
• Direct damage to reproductive organs such as fallopian tubes, cervix, uterus, and ovaries.
• Damage to an organ that produces hormones such as the pituitary gland reduces the secretion of LH, FSH, causing the ovaries to decrease female sex hormone secretion.
• The radiation targeting the uterus can cause damage and scar formation.
Mother with cancer can affect the fetus? Depending on the situation and the stage of the pregnancy, it will have a certain effect on the fetus.
With radiotherapy, less blood is supplied to the uterus, reducing the ability to fully contract during pregnancy, making it easier to miscarriage, in the late stages of pregnancy, it is easy to give birth prematurely, the baby is born. lightweight.
The ovaries are egg stores that, when damaged by radiation therapy, decrease the ability to store eggs. If the healthy eggs are lost, they are irreplaceable, leading to infertility and premature perimenopause leading to impaired health.
Fertility Support Methods After Radiation
Before applying cancer treatments, patients should consult their doctor about the possibility of having a baby after cancer treatment, whether the reproductive function has temporary or permanent effects, methods of fertility conservation, after During treatment, how to know whether a reproductive function is restored …
Depending on the specific case, the doctor will be oriented, treat with appropriate methods and reduce risks for the patient.
Do many patients wonder if chemotherapy can give birth? This also depends on the age and the type of chemotherapy drug will have a different effect. But in general, after chemotherapy, fertility will decline and not last long, easily leading to premenopause.
After cancer treatment, patients should consult a specialist to evaluate the reproductive function and diagnose fertility-related diseases.
Fertility Assessment and Menstrual Cycle After Cancer Treatment
Can women with cancer become pregnant? According to the cases that patients who have been treated for cancer, women who are still menstruating are still able to become pregnant.
However, menstruation is only one of the factors in evaluating fertility and has no definite meaning.
There are cases when the menstrual cycle is stopped altogether, leading to early premenopause leading to infertility.
In some other cases, radiation therapy will cause temporary menstrual loss, after a while the function will recover and the menstrual cycle returns, it is still possible to become pregnant.
However, fertility in these cases will decrease or shorten the time to enter pre-menopause.
Depending on the age and the number of chemicals in radiation therapy, the older the menstrual period will be lower and the risk of perimenopause is higher than that of the young.
Doctors will advise and request patients to do ovarian reserve tests to evaluate. Young people have a higher capacity to store eggs.
But using chemicals in high doses in the pelvic area, even children are at risk of pre-menopause even without a menstruation.
Pregnancy Conditions After Cancer Treatment
To get pregnant without the use of assisted reproductive methods, the patient needs to meet the following conditions:
• Patient needs to have at least 1 healthy ovary with enough spare eggs.
• The fallopian tubes are still healthy.
• The uterus is still healthy, ensuring the normal development of the fetus.
• There is still enough fertility hormone needed.
However, although the evaluation results are good, depending on the patient's condition, the doctor will have appropriate advice.
There are some cases where patients need to wait a while before taking the method or getting pregnant naturally depending on:
• Type of cancer and its stage of progression.
• Methods used in cancer treatment.
• Patient's age and health condition.
Methods Of Preservation Of Reproduction
Delayed pregnancy after cancer treatment can impair fertility due to declining egg production with age and declining health.
For cancer patients, doctors may advise on fertility conservation methods before cancer treatment to increase their chances of having children in the future.
Not everyone can implement fertility conservation, as it depends on:
- Age of the patient.
- Spouse (spouse) health condition.
- The physical and sexual maturity of the patient.
- Most importantly, it is important to follow the individual preferences of the patient.
Some methods of reproduction conservation are currently applied such as:
Freeze the embryo
Also known as artificial insemination, this is one of the most successful methods. The eggs will be removed from the body by medical methods, before that the patient needs to take the egg stimulant 2 weeks before. The eggs are then fertilized in vitro and frozen for future use.
Freezing unfertilized eggs (Freezing the ovaries)
This is generally used in unmarried women, and the success rate is lower than embryo freezing, but the procedure is the same as embryo freezing, except that the eggs have not been fertilized.
Surgery helps to preserve fertility
Depending on the cancer case, the patient will have surgery to remove one of the ovaries or fallopian tubes, but will still be able to reproduce later thanks to the application of modern fertility support methods.
Radiotherapy to preserve the ovaries
Radiation therapy on only one ovary is still capable of preserving fertility for women. Besides, depending on the case, there will be an intervention by surgery to fix the ovaries by moving 1 or both of the ovaries so that they are not exposed to radiation.
After radiation therapy, the ovaries will return to their original position. However, radiation is still capable of shining into the blood vessels leading to the ovaries or potentially affecting the ovaries. Therefore, it is not always effective as expected.
Doctors use hormones to suppress ovarian function, thereby protecting the ovaries during radiation therapy. This method is less common and is not recommended as there are other methods of support.
Ovarian tissue preservation
This method is often used in young patients who cannot perform embryo or oocyte freezing methods.
Doctors will intervene to remove frozen tissue from the ovary. After the cancer treatment is finished, the transplant will be brought back into the patient's body.
Cancer Treatment During Pregnancy
Finding cancer during pregnancy, doctors will have to consider the following factors to conduct treatment:
• The type of cancer a patient has, the location, size, and stage of cancer.
• Stage of pregnancy.
• The wishes of the pregnant woman and her family.
Cancer women during pregnancy, depending on the case, doctors will have specific indications as follows:
• If in the first 3 months, pregnancy when radiotherapy will affect the development of the fetus. Therefore, it is necessary to delay to the middle or late period of pregnancy.
• In the late stages of pregnancy, the doctor may wait until the baby is born to apply cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation …
• Most of the cancer treatments in pregnancy affect the unborn baby, so doctors will minimize the application of this method to pregnant women.
The likelihood of giving birth after radiation therapy is not the same for each case. It must be based on many factors about the patient's condition, the method of radiation therapy, and the degree of radiation effects on reproductive function.
Before conducting radiation therapy, patients should seek medical advice about pregnancy after radiation therapy. Along with that, after the end of radiation therapy, it is necessary to monitor the health condition and continue to visit the specialist to evaluate a reproductive function and apply treatment if there is still the chance of pregnancy.
For more information about our test menu and price list, please click here.
The site cannot and does not contain medical advice. The medical information is provided for general informational and educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional advice. Accordingly, before taking any actions based upon such information, we encourage you to consult with the appropriate professionals.