Resources for Adolescent and Young Adult Patients

Fertility preservation is the cryopreservation (freezing) of human reproductive tissue such as semen or testicular tissue in male patients and oocytes (eggs), and embryos (fertilized eggs) or ovarian tissue in female patients. The gonadal tissue can be used many years after successful cancer treatment for in vitro fertilization (IVF) therapies or intra uterine insemination (IUI) providing patient with potential possibility of having a biological child. The following information sheets and videos provide adolescent and young adult patients information about different fertility preservation options available.

What is involved in fertility preservation?

If you have made the decision to undergo fertility preservation the fertility centre that is looking after you will give you more information about the steps that are involved in the process. The fertility team will try and accommodate different patient needs and fit in with other medical investigations that you may need before starting your cancer treatment. The information sheets and videos in the section will help you prepare for procedures and offer some questions that you may wish to ask your fertility specialist.

During and after cancer treatment

Once your treatment has started you may have more time to think about the effects of treatment on your body including the possibility of infertility. It may be difficult to recall some of these conversations about your fertility, which happened at a time when you also received information about your cancer diagnosis. You may have lots of concerns about your fertility and you may feel very nervous or apprehensive about how you should discuss this with a current or new partner.

Keeping well during and after cancer treatment

While you may be worried about your future fertility it is also important to think about keeping healthy and preventing sexually transmitted diseases during and after cancer treatment especially when your immunity is at its lowest.

It is normal to want to continue or start relationships during cancer treatment but sometimes it is difficult to know how to do this when you are feeling so unwell. Your relationship may change during cancer treatment but it is possible to have intimacy and loving relationships at this time.

The information sheets and videos give information about sexual health and relationships during cancer treatment.

Dealing with complications of cancer treatment

Unfortunately cancer patients may experience emotional or physical complications of cancer treatment that can have an effect on their sexual function and fertility. Although these problems are more common in certain cancers they can occur in any cancer patient. Some of these problems may be very embarrassing to talk about such as incontinence (leaking urine), impotence (unable to get or maintain an erection), reduced libido (a lack of sexual desire) and pain or dryness in sexual organs before, during or after sexual activities.

Unfortunately doctors may not always ask patients medical questions about sexual health especially when they make assumptions about patients needs during and after cancer treatment. This does not mean that your symptoms are not important. The information sheets and video will give you some information about sexual dysfunction symptoms and tips on how you can speak to your doctor.

Having a family after cancer treatment

Although there are options available to protect patient’s fertility during cancer treatment, preserving fertility is not always possible. The loss of reproductive function is one of the most distressing potential adverse consequences of successful cancer treatment.

There are still a number of ways to start or expand your family even if your or your partner’s fertility has been affected by cancer treatment. The information sheets and videos attached give information about what you should do if you are considering having a baby now or in the future and other options available to those patients who have tried IVF techniques unsuccessfully.