Talking with your fertility care team about fertility preservation
The fertility care team carry out procedures known as fertility preservation for women who are diagnosed with cancer. The fertility care team can talk with you about your decision to have or not have fertility preservation procedures.
The fertility consultation depends on the clinic that you are attending, your cancer diagnosis and planned cancer treatment. The fertility care team will look at your medical history to make sure that fertility preservation treatment is appropriate. They will explain what is involved, success rates and the side effects of fertility treatment. If you need further tests, these will be done before fertility treatment starts. You will also have the chance to discuss the different fertility preservation options available at the clinic.
If you choose fertility preservation treatment, different tests will be carried out. These will include blood tests to measure hormone levels and other screening tests. The fertility care team will also discuss issues about consent to treatment as recommended by the HFEA.
Referral to a fertility clinic
A member of your cancer care team will be able to refer you to a fertility clinic. They can ask them to fit you in as soon as possible to prevent any delays to your cancer treatment.
If you would like to be referred to a fertility clinic, there are some things to check:
- Has a member of my cancer care team made a referral for me to a fertility clinic?
- Have I received an appointment to see the fertility care team?
If your answer is no or you’re not sure, you may want to ask your cancer care team to contact the fertility clinic on your behalf as soon as possible. The questions here may help you prepare for the fertility consultation.
Questions to ask your cancer care team and fertility care team
The following questions below may help you think about what is important to you about these fertility preservation options.
Writing down your thoughts will help you talk with your cancer care team and fertility care team to plan your care before starting your cancer treatment.
Does my cancer type or treatment affect the type of fertility preservation option I can have?
Can I check if I am fertile before my cancer treatment starts?
Why should I make a fertility preservation decision right now?
Do I have time to undergo fertility preservation before starting cancer treatment?
Is there anything that can be done during cancer treatment to protect my fertility?
For how long is it safe to delay my cancer treatment?
Will having treatment to preserve my fertility delay my cancer treatment? If so, what effect could this have on my chance of recovering from cancer?
Will I have to pay for my fertility preservation treatment? Will I have to pay for storing and using my eggs, embryos or tissue in the future?
Recommended sources of information
The HFEA is the UK’s independent regulator overseeing the use of gametes (eggs and sperm) and embryos in fertility treatment and research. There is advice on their website about how you can get the most out of your fertility consultations. You can do this by:
- Asking questions.
- Taking time out to think things through – there can be a lot of difficult issues to consider.
- Remembering that the fertility care team are there to help you make the right choice for you. The HFEA website www.hfea.gov.uk has more information about fertility clinics, fertility preservation treatments and fertility success rates in your area.