Ovarian cancer and infertility: what is the connection? How can we still become parents after cancer treatment?

Cancer and infertility - what is the connection - How can we still become parents after cancer treatment

With the reports pouring in, it is quite evident that mankind is witnessing a tremendous hike in the number of cancer cases. Everywhere we see,  there are cancer patients in abundance. Even people who seemingly look healthy and follow an active lifestyle are falling prey to the big C. The much-dreaded disease has been found to be influencing various organs of the human body. While the whole world is dealing with fertility issues as well, it is a revelation that the two may be connected. Presence of cysts in the ovary, referred to as ovarian cysts might lead to infertility. But the treatment of cancer requires long bouts of exposure to radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

After availing such strong treatment methods to deal with cancer, the women may find it hard to conceive and have a baby. The reason lies in the fact that the chemotherapy and radiation might do good for your cancer but the same can not be said about your reproductive organs. According to the infertility center in India, many women suffer from infertility after they get treated for cancer. While they may avail female infertility treatment, they also have the option of discussing their plans to become pregnant in the future prior to starting their treatment.

This can be a great help if you discuss the issues with the doctor before starting the cancer treatment. Such discussions can lead to taking smart decisions such as embryo freezing. One other method which proves to be helpful in such a scenario is oocyte preservation. The other methods include surgery, Ovarian suppression, and Ovarian tissue preservation.

Techniques are collectively known as fertility preservation.

Let’s have a look at them:

  1. Embryo freezing-It is a procedure in which the embryo of a woman is preserved for future use. While women may opt for it due to professional reasons, it can be used for donation purpose or for medical training. It is an excellent option for a woman suffering from ovarian cancer and has yet to plan her family.
  1. Oocyte freezing– This technique involves the preservation of the woman’s egg for future use. The only distinction of the oocyte freezing from embryo freezing is the fact that embryo involves a fertilized egg while oocyte involves only the woman’s egg.
  1. Surgery– surgery is undertaken to remove one of the ovaries.
  1. Ovarian tissue preservation is a technique which involves the preservation of the outer layer of the ovary. It is still in an experimental stage. The outer layer of ovary contains immature eggs in large numbers , it can prove to be a boon for the infertile patients. The layer is cut into small strips and frozen after extraction.
  1. Ovarian suppression

It refers to the procedure of temporarily or permanently suspending the ovaries from functioning through medical treatments. The process disables the ovaries function of estrogen production. It is widely used for preserving the fertility of women with breast cancer. It is also used for premenopausal women with breast cancer.

Ovarian cancer and its symptoms

While ovarian cancer accounts for 3 % of the total cases of cancer in women, it is the fifth most fatal type of cancer.

Although it may not be possible to see clear symptoms in the early stages, symptoms of ovarian cancer can manifest as –

  1. Bloating of the abdomen or swelling in the uterus.
  2. Constipation
  3. Feeling the urge to urinate frequently

Symptoms get worse as ovarian tumours grow and begin to take up more space in the abdomen. Tumours can press against other organs and interfere with normal body functions. The symptoms get worse as the tumour increases in size. Ovarian cancer is characterized by the uncontrolled growth of the ovary cells.

Ovarian Cancer and Weight Gain

As the tumours increase, they can be mistaken for belly fat. Of course, they cause weight gain but one may relate it to one’s lifestyle, not cancer. As uterus is designed to accommodate the foetus ,  cancer may take up more space in the area. Due to this fact, it becomes hard to detect cancer until it develops into a much bigger size.

Cancer treatment

It is recommended that you seek medical help in case you experience any of the above-mentioned symptoms. An unexplained weight gain coupled with digestion problems or urinary or sexual discomfort must be addressed with urgency as it could point to something serious. The treatment methodology will depend on which stage of cancer you are in, the size and the type of tumour and whether you want to have children in the future or not.

A word about ovarian cysts

Ovarian cysts are sack-like structures which are formed on the surface of the ovary. They contain fluid and are not easy to detect as they hardly cause any symptoms for a long period of time. They might indicate their presence with pointers like pelvic pain, pain during bowel movements, breast tenderness, nausea and feeling of fullness in the abdomen. The cysts need to be treated as they could grow large and rupture and cause a hazard to your health.