Nashville Fertility


Oncofertility offers hope for men and women facing cancer treatment

A cancer diagnosis is frightening for anyone, and when people realize that their cancer treatment might affect their ability to have children, the stress only increases. Here at our Tennessee fertility clinics, we fast-track cancer patients who wish to preserve their fertility through oncofertility treatment before beginning treatment for their cancer.

Who might need oncofertility treatment?

Certain types of cancer treatment can negatively affect fertility in men or women. The impact on a person’s ability to conceive or carry a baby can depend on where the cancer is located, and where the treatment is targeted.

  • Chemotherapy. This treatment works by destroying active cells, and unfortunately, it can’t differentiate cancer cells from active cells in the ovaries and testicles. Chemotherapy can have a lasting impact on fertility in both women and men, because these organs may lose their ability to produce functional eggs or sperm in the future.
  • Surgery. If the reproductive organs are affected – as with ovarian, uterine, cervical or testicular cancer – treatment may involve removal of all or part of the affected organs.
  • Radiation. This type of therapy targets the area where cancer is growing. If radiation therapy is targeted at the abdominal area or groin, it can damage the ovaries and eggs in women, or sperm production in men.
  • Hormone therapy. In some cases, hormone treatment is used to slow down cancer growth. This is especially common in treating breast cancer, and it can affect fertility.

“Oncofertility treatment preserves eggs, sperm or embryos before cancer treatment has a chance to damage them,” says Meredith Humphreys, MD, one of our reproductive endocrinologists who specializes in oncofertility and other advanced fertility treatments. “This gives cancer patients the chance to try for a baby with IVF at some point in the future, after they have recovered from cancer.”

Types of fertility preservation before cancer treatment

Our Tennessee fertility clinics welcome both men and women who are considering preserving their fertility, as well as couples when one partner is facing a cancer diagnosis.

For women – Oncofertility treatment for women involves taking medications that stimulate the production of multiple eggs at the same time, which are then retrieved in a quick outpatient procedure, cryopreserved in our IVF laboratory, and stored for future use in IVF procedures. This process takes several weeks, so we urge cancer patients considering egg freezing to contact us right away to get started.

For women in committed relationships – Some couples choose to move ahead with creating embryos through IVF, which can be cryopreserved and stored indefinitely. When the couple is ready to try for children, one embryo at a time can be transferred to the woman’s uterus, or to that of a gestational carrier, if needed.

For men – Sperm can be frozen and banked for future use. This process is much easier and faster than egg freezing, as it simply involves providing one or more semen samples that can be processed, cryopreserved and stored.

Don’t wait to consider protecting your fertility

“It’s important to start the fertility preservation process before cancer treatment begins, so that healthy eggs and sperm can be used or stored,” Dr. Humphreys says. “Because delaying cancer therapies too long can be risky, we prioritize every patient who comes to us seeking oncofertility treatment.”

If you or someone you know is facing a cancer diagnosis, we encourage you to explore fertility preservation as quickly as possible. Contact us to schedule a fast-track appointment at any of our Tennessee fertility clinics to discuss your options.

Meredith Humphreys, MD, explains the fertility preservation process for cancer patients.


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