Women’s options after cancer treatment

Fertility options after cancer treatment may be limited. Your ability to become pregnant may depend on the effects of cancer treatment on fertility, your age and whether you have been through premature ovarian insufficiency or early menopause.

Before trying to conceive, you may want to have your fertility checked. See the Assessing fertility after treatment.

If you harvested and stored eggs or embryos, you may choose to use them after treatment is finished. If your ovaries are still functioning after treatment ends, it is possible to freeze eggs or embryos then.

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Natural conception

Some women are able to conceive naturally after finishing cancer treatment. This will only be possible if your body is producing eggs and you have a uterus. Your medical team will do tests to assess your fertility and will encourage you to try for a baby naturally if they think it may be possible to fall pregnant.

Women who have had chemotherapy or pelvic radiation therapy are at risk of sudden menopause, even after periods resume. If menopause is permanent, it means you will no longer be able to conceive naturally.

If you would like to try to fall pregnant naturally, speak with your cancer specialist first. You may be advised to wait between six months and two years before trying to conceive. The length of time will depend on the type of cancer and the treatment you had.


Donor eggs and embryos

If you have premature ovarian insufficiency after cancer treatment, using donor eggs or embryos may be the only way for you to try for a pregnancy. These options are available to women with a healthy uterus who can be pregnant, although there may be an age limit of about 51.

There are several steps to this process. The first involves taking hormones to prepare the lining of your uterus to receive the donor egg or embryo, and then until the pregnancy is viable. For this reason, women who have a hormone-sensitive cancer may not be able to carry a donor egg or embryo. If you’d like to consider other options, see Other paths to parenthood.


Finding information about the donor

In Australia, clinics can only use eggs and embryos from donors who agree that people born from their donation can find out who they are. This means that the name, address and date of birth of donors are recorded.

All donor-conceived people are entitled to access identifying information about the donor once they turn 18.

In some states, a central register is used to record details about donors and their donor-conceived offspring. Parents of donor-conceived children, and donor-conceived people who are over the age of 18, can apply for information about the donor through these registers. In other states and territories, people who want information about their donor can ask the clinic where they had treatment.

If you’d like to use donor eggs or embryos, discuss the possible issues for donor-conceived children with a fertility counsellor.


Using donor eggs

Most IVF units in Australia have access to donor eggs. You can also ask a family member or friend to donate eggs. Regardless of where the egg comes from, the donor completes blood tests, answers questions about their genetic and medical information, and goes through a counselling process.

When the egg is removed from the donor’s body, it is fertilised by your partner’s sperm or donor sperm to create an embryo. After a period of quarantine, the embryo is inserted into your uterus. See Women’s options before cancer treatment for more on the general IVF process and for a diagram of how IVF works.

Egg donation is more expensive than standard IVF, as you may be paying costs related to the donor hormone stimulation process.


Using donor embryos

If you use a donated embryo, you can become pregnant without having a genetic relationship to the baby.

Your body will be prepared for pregnancy using hormones, then a thawed embryo will be transferred into your uterus through the IVF process.

Embryo donations usually come from couples who have gone through fertility treatments and have spare frozen embryos that they don’t wish to use themselves. Embryos may be donated for ethical reasons (instead of destroying the embryos) or compassionate reasons (to help someone with infertility).


Click on the icon below to download a PDF booklet on Fertility and Cancer.


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Instructions for downloading and reading EPUB files

Apple devices

The iBooks application must be installed on your Apple device before you can read the EPUB.
Different ways to download an EPUB file to your Apple device:

  • email EPUB files to yourself and transfer the attachment to iBooks.
  • copy EPUB files into DropBox (or a similar service) and use the DropBox app to send them to iBooks.
  • open EPUB files directly from Mobile Safari and open them in iBooks, where they are saved automatically by downloading the EPUB from the website.

Need more help? Visit: http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4059

Kobo

To download an EPUB file to your Kobo from a Windows computer:

  • download and save the EPUB directly onto your desktop.
  • connect your Kobo to your computer using the USB cable and tap “Connect” on your eReader.
  • select “Open folder to view files” to view the contents of your Kobo.
  • navigate to where you have stored your EPUB file in “Finder”, in documents or downloads, and drag and drop it into the Kobo window. You can now disconnect your Kobo to read the eBook.

To download an EPUB to your Kobo from a Mac:

  • download and save the EPUB directly onto your desktop.
  • connect your Kobo to your computer using the USB cable and tap “Connect” on your eReader.
  • open your “Finder” application.
  • select “Kobo eReader” from the listed devices to view the contents of your Kobo.
  • navigate to where you have stored your EPUB file in “Finder”, probably in documents or downloads, and drag and drop it into the Kobo window. You can now disconnect your Kobo to read the eBook.

Turn on your Kobo and your EPUB will be located in “eBooks”, while a PDF will be located in “Documents”.
Need more information? Visit: http://www.kobo.com/help/koboaura/response/?id=3784&type=3

Sony Reader

To download an EPUB file on your Sony Reader™:

  • ensure you have already installed the Reader™ Library for PC/Mac software
  • select the eBook you want from our website and click the link to download it.
  • connect the Reader™ to your computer.
  • open the Reader™ Library software and click “Library” in the left-hand pane and select the eBook to view it.

Need more help? Visit: https://au.readerstore.sony.com/apps_and_devices/

Amazon Kindle 2nd Generation devices

EPUB files can’t be read on the Amazon Kindle™. However, like most eReaders, Kindle™ 2nd Generation devices are able to display PDFs. We recommend that you download the PDF version of this booklet if you would like to read it on a Kindle™.
To transfer a PDF to your Kindle™ via USB cable from your computer or Mac:

  • download the PDF directly onto your computer.
  • connect the USB cable to your computer’s USB port, and the micro USB end of the cable to your Kindle™. Note: the Kindle™ won’t be available as a reading device while it is connected to your computer until it has been disconnected.
  • open the Kindle™ drive and several folders will appear inside. The “Documents” folder is where you will need to copy or drag the PDF to.
  • safely eject your Kindle™ from your computer and unplug the USB cable. Your content will appear on the Home Screen.

Kindle also provides a Kindle Personal Documents Service that allows users to send documents as an attachment directly to your eReader. For more information on this service, visit http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html/ref=help_search_1-1?ie=UTF8&nodeId=200767340&qid=1395967989&sr=1-1
For more information on accessing a PDF on your Kindle™, visit www.amazon.com/manageyourkindle, log in to your account and click on Personal Document Settings.
Need more help? Visit https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=200375630

Android and PC

You can also download and open eBooks on Android devices and PCs with appropriate apps or software installed. Suitable eReader apps for Android include Google Play Books, FBReader and Moon+ Reader. Suitable software for PCs include Calibre and Adobe Digital Editions.


This information was last reviewed in May 2018
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Support services

Coping with cancer?
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Cancer information

What is cancer?
How cancer starts and spreads

Sexuality, intimacy and cancer
This is for people with cancer and their partners. It aims to help you understand and deal with the ways cancer and its treatment may affect your sexuality.

Dealing with the diagnosis
Common reactions to a cancer diagnosis and how to find hope

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