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Cancer & Infertility

When it comes to infertility and cancer, the main causes are those pretty important and life-saving cancer treatments. Radiation, chemotherapy, surgery, and transplants all have the potential to cause infertility. And cancer itself can impact fertility, too. But, what does that really mean?

Health 101


Men create sperm in their testicles. Sperm mixes with other fluids to make semen, which leaves the body through ejaculation. The testicles can be damaged during cancer treatment, which can interfere with sperm production.


Women are born with all the eggs they will ever produce. Eggs live in the ovaries and over time, the amount of eggs decreases naturally. The number and quality of eggs can be impacted during cancer treatment. Genetic damage and other reproductive problems impacting pregnancy can also occur due to cancer treatment.


When sperm and an egg join, it’s called fertilization. The fertilized egg moves towards the uterus, and if it successfully attaches to the uterus, it is called implantation and pregnancy officially begins. At this point, it’s called an embryo.


Pregnancy lasts about 40 weeks. Over that time, the embryo grows and develops into a fetus.


When the fetus is fully developed, a baby is born.

What is oncofertility?

Oncofertility is the intersection between cancer care and reproductive health, particularly related to fertility of cancer patients and survivors. Unfortunately, only 47% of oncologists talk to their patients about preserving fertility before they start treatment. If you are interested in having a child after cancer, regardless of your gender, it is critical to talk to your medical team about your fertility options before you start treatment.

Oncofertility is a relatively new field. Due to its newness, cancer teams don’t always bring up fertility options with their patients before starting treatment.  Learn how to start the conversation with your medical team here.

The ABC’s

Confused by all the new words and phrases being thrown at you? We’ve got you covered.

Fertility Preservation

Efforts to help cancer patients protect their fertility AKA their ability to have biological children.

Iatrogenic Infertility

AKA medically induced infertility. Being infertile due to a medical procedure to treat another diagnosis (i.e. chemo, radiation).

Ovarian Reserve

The number and quality of the eggs in a woman’s ovaries.

Ovarian Suppression

Using drugs to prevent eggs from being released naturally so they are protected from the effects of chemo.


The process of freezing your sperm, eggs, or tissue to preserve them until you’re ready to try to have a biological child.

Reproductive Endocrinologist and Infertility Specialist (REI)

A type of doctor specializing in reproduction and infertility.

In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)

A method of getting pregnant where mature eggs are retrieved from a woman’s ovaries and then fertilized by sperm in a lab. The fertilized egg (AKA an embryo) is then transferred to a woman’s uterus to continue growing.

Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)

A method of artificial insemination where a sperm sample is placed directly in the uterus around the time of ovulation to increase the chances of getting pregnant.

Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART)

Different medical procedures used to address infertility.

Not sure what all those new cancer words mean? No worries.

Our dictionary


Cancer is confusing. Fertility is confusing. We’re here to break it all down.

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