Fertility & Cancer: Why Your Help is Needed

The need for a surrogate in a male-male coupling is obvious. The necessity for a surrogate when an intended mother is in the equation is less clear. There are many reasons an intended mother may need the assistance of a surrogate to complete her family. Many of these reasons are deeply personal and rarely discussed openly due to their sensitive nature. One potential reason a woman may need a surrogate is if she is a cancer survivor.

Cancer can most obviously attack a woman’s fertility if the tumors are effecting her reproductive organs directly. Cancer of the cervix, uterus, or ovaries can often lead to a partial or complete hysterectomy. Clearly, if a woman’s reproductive organs are altered or removed, she will likely be left unable to carry her own child.

Other forms of cancer not directly effecting her reproductive system can also have an impact on a woman’s fertility. This is because certain forms of cancer treatment may cause temporary or permanent infertility as a side effect.

Chemotherapy or radiation targeted at the abdomen or pelvis is especially problematic. Issues can arise when the ovaries absorb too much of the radiation. Doctors believe this radiation can destroy eggs within the ovaries. The extremity of radiation’s impact on a woman will depend on a variety of factors including her age, egg reserve, and individual response to radiation. Certain forms of chemotherapy can also impact fertility, with higher doses leading to infertility more often.

The fact that the same treatment can have no impact on one patient at all, while leaving a different patient completely infertile, is frustrating.  Some forms of treatment may lead to temporary infertility, while in other cases, the side effect may be irreversible.

The side effect of permanent infertility can be especially oppressive to survivors who want to build their families. The result is that, often, these women will turn to assisted reproductive technologies to build their families in spite of the cancer. And when they do, chances are that they’re going to need your help to complete their family.

Teo Martinez

Teo Martinez is the CEO of Growing Generations, a surrogacy and egg donation agency headquartered in Los Angeles, CA. Educated at both UCLA and Pepperdine University, and with over 15 years of experience working in assisted reproduction, Teo’s background makes him one of the most experienced and accomplished professionals in the field.