Blood cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and stem cell transplantation, can significantly impact fertility in both men and women. Here are the options and considerations regarding fertility preservation and management for individuals facing blood cancer:

Impact of Blood Cancer Treatments on Fertility

  1. Chemotherapy:
    • Some chemotherapy drugs can damage ovarian or testicular tissue, leading to reduced fertility or infertility.
    • The impact depends on the type, dosage, and duration of chemotherapy.
  2. Radiation Therapy:
    • Radiation directed near the reproductive organs can affect ovarian or testicular function and reduce fertility.
    • Techniques like ovarian shielding or precision radiation may help minimize damage to reproductive organs.
  3. Stem Cell Transplantation:
    • High-dose chemotherapy and total body irradiation (TBI) used in preparation for stem cell transplantation can cause infertility due to damage to the ovaries or testes.

Options for Preserving Fertility

  1. Women:
    • Oocyte Cryopreservation (Egg Freezing): Involves stimulating the ovaries to produce multiple eggs, which are then retrieved, frozen, and stored for future use.
    • Embryo Cryopreservation: Fertilization of eggs with sperm (partner’s or donor) before freezing embryos for future implantation.
    • Ovarian Tissue Cryopreservation: Involves surgically removing and freezing ovarian tissue, which can be later transplanted back or used for fertility restoration.
  2. Men:
    • Sperm Cryopreservation: Collection and freezing of sperm samples for future use in assisted reproductive techniques (ART) like in vitro fertilization (IVF) or intrauterine insemination (IUI).
    • Testicular Tissue Cryopreservation: Experimental option involving the freezing of testicular tissue for potential future use.

Considerations and Challenges

  1. Timing: Fertility preservation options should ideally be discussed and initiated before starting cancer treatment to maximize effectiveness.
  2. Risk of Delay: Treatment urgency may limit time for fertility preservation, especially in cases requiring immediate therapy initiation.
  3. Success Rates: Success rates vary depending on factors such as age, fertility preservation method used, and individual health status.
  4. Emotional and Psychological Impact: Dealing with a cancer diagnosis and fertility concerns simultaneously can be emotionally challenging. Counseling and support services are valuable.

Planning for Parenthood After Treatment

  1. Post-Treatment Monitoring: Regular monitoring post-treatment to assess fertility recovery or need for fertility assistance.
  2. Assisted Reproductive Techniques (ART): Options such as IVF, using preserved eggs or sperm, may be considered to achieve pregnancy after treatment.
  3. Surrogacy and Adoption: Alternative paths to parenthood for those unable to conceive naturally or through ART.


Understanding the impact of blood cancer treatments on fertility and exploring fertility preservation options early can provide individuals with more choices and peace of mind during cancer treatment. Consulting with a fertility specialist and discussing options with your healthcare team are crucial steps in making informed decisions about preserving fertility and planning for future parenthood after blood cancer treatment.

By Sue