Preserving Fertility after Cancer

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Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine offers hope to cancer patients wanting children after treatment.

Imagine being diagnosed with cancer during your peak reproductive years. Thinking about reproductive health is likely the furthest thing from your mind. But before beginning life-saving treatment, it is critical to be informed of your reproductive risks, educated about your choices and empowered to make decisions impacting your fertility.

The Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine (CCRM) understands the importance of preserving fertility and the critical role timing plays in the treatment of cancer. CCRM is proud to align itself with Fertile Hope's Sharing Hope Program. The program provides qualified applicants with fertility medications, services from reproductive endocrinologists and continued support from the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

"Infertility is a very real and unfortunate side effect of cancer and cancer treatment. We are proud to offer hope. Understanding that timing plays a critical role in preserving fertility, we will do all that we can to schedule priority appointments to cancer patients participating in the Sharing Hope program and inform them of their reproductive options," explained Dr. William Schoolcraft, Medical Director and founder of CCRM.

Fortunately, several options exist before and after treatment. For women facing cancer-related infertility, the Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine offers the following options for pregnancy after cancer.

Embryo Freezing--Embryo freezing is the most widely available and most standard practice. Prior to chemotherapy or radiation treatment, mature eggs are removed during In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), combining them with partner or donor sperm in the laboratory, freezing, and then storing the fertilized embryos until the cancer is in successful remission. Once it is deemed safe to attempt pregnancy, the IVF process continues by removing a limited number of frozen embryos from storage and implanting them into the patient's uterus. Because of the effects of hormones on certain types of cancer, embryo freezing is not an option for all cancer patients. The embryo freezing process typically takes two to three weeks and is available for women after puberty.

Egg Freezing--Designed for single women who do not wish to use donor sperm, egg freezing is now a possible option. During this process, unfertilized eggs are removed, frozen and stored for use after the cancer has gone into successful remission. This procedure is still experimental and is currently being performed as part of an approved research protocol. Egg freezing is similar to embryo freezing and requires the use of hormone therapy; therefore, egg freezing is not an option for all cancer patients. The egg freezing process typically takes two to three weeks and is available for women after puberty.

Embryo Transfer with Donor Eggs--In the event that a woman's ovarian function is diminished as a result of chemotherapy or radiation; she may have the option of embryo transfer using donor eggs following treatment. During this procedure, a known or anonymous donor contributes eggs to be combined with a partner's sperm. The fertilized embryo is then transferred into the patient's uterus.

Although there are no guarantees that these procedures will result in a pregnancy, the Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine consistently achieves some of the highest pregnancy success rates in the United States. Thinking about fertility now can help make sure choices are available when patients are ready. Answers, treatments, and hope exist and begin with a consultation to learn about various options.

To learn more about the program or to schedule a priority appointment, call 303-788-8300 or visit the CCRM website at http://www.ColoCRM.com.

About Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine

Founded in 1987 by Dr. William Schoolcraft, the Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine is one of the nation's leading infertility treatment centers, providing a wide spectrum of infertility treatments ranging from basic infertility care to advanced In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) technology. Today, joined by Drs. Eric Surrey, Debra Minjarez and Robert Gustofson, Dr. Schoolcraft and his staff achieve some of the highest pregnancy rates in the country--ranked "The #1 Fertility Center in the U.S., with the Greatest Chance of Success" by Child.com. For more information visit http://www.ColoCRM.com

About Fertile Hope's Sharing Hope Program

Sharing Hope is the first and only financial assistance program that helps increase access to sperm banking and egg and embryo freezing for cancer patients. The program is made possible through donated fertility medications from Serono, Inc., discounted sperm banking services from GIVF Cryobanks, discounted egg and embryo freezing services from reproductive endocrinologists from around the country and programmatic support from the Lance Armstrong Foundation. This unique program provides hope for life after cancer. Visit http://www.fertilehope.org for more information.

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