Ovarian Suppression

This is an option to protect the ovaries during cancer treatment. It is a hormone treatment, in the form of injections. It works by temporarily ‘switching off’ oestrogen made by the ovary. This stops menstruation until after the cancer treatment has been completed. It is not clear whether it increases the chance of being able to have a baby after cancer treatment. Ovarian suppression can be used immediately before and during chemotherapy.

Who is it for?

Women who wish to preserve their fertility and:

What does it involve?

You will need to have monthly injections which stop the hormones that stimulate your ovaries. You may be offered Gonadotrophin-releasing hormones (GnRH) analogue treatment. This is a hormone treatment which may also help preserve your fertility.

What is the chance of having a baby after ovarian suppression?

The chance of having a baby in the future depends on how your ovaries have been affected by your cancer treatment. The evidence that it can protect the ovary against chemotherapy is only clear for women with breast cancer, and it may not be effective for women with other cancers. It is not clear how much it increases the chance of you being able to have a baby after treatment and it may be less effective than freezing techniques, so where those are possible, and future fertility is important to you, you should not choose ovarian suppression instead of freezing techniques.

Will this option affect the health of the baby?

No, the data suggests that the health of a baby born using ovarian supression will not be affected.

Are there any side effects of the treatment used in ovarian suppression?

This option means shutting down the ovaries for a short time. This can cause side effects common in menopause such as hot flushes, mood changes, difficulty sleeping, and vaginal dryness. These symptoms are temporary as ovarian suppression does not cause permanent menopause.

Will this option delay the start of my cancer treatment?

Hormone injections are mostly given monthly and will start around 2 weeks before cancer treatment. Once cancer treatment starts, the injections are given each month the whole time a woman is receiving chemotherapy.

Will this option affect my chances of the cancer coming back?

Studies have shown that ovarian suppression does not affect the chance of the cancer coming back.

You may find it useful to write down what you like about this option and what worries you about this option.

These notes may help you talk about whether or not this option is best for you with your cancer care team and fertility care team, partner, family and friends.