At the OSUCCC – James, we understand that questions and concerns about cancer’s relationship to sexual health and fertility are important and sensitive topics for many of our patients, and we offer a safe, caring and compassionate environment in which to explore them.
Women’s Integrated Sexual Health Program
The Women’s Integrated Sexual Health (WISH) Program treats the sexual and emotional health needs of cancer patients and survivors. Unlike other treatments for sexual concerns or difficulties, the services are designed specifically with those needs in mind. The WISH program offers individual consultation and education sessions, as well as individual and group psychotherapy. As with all of your medical care, treatment sessions and information are strictly confidential.
Women and Sexuality: An Information Opportunity for Cancer Survivors
Sexual concerns are surprisingly common among individuals following a cancer diagnosis. This program is designed specifically for women treated for cancer.
It offers a first step to learn about sexuality and common difficulties arising from cancer and other natural changes throughout one’s life. In addition to general information, first line suggestions for difficulties such as vaginal dryness, loss of desire or concerns with your body will be provided.
If you are concerned about your fertility during cancer treatment, be sure to talk with your OSUCCC – James medical oncologist about fertility preserving treatments or alternatives.
Cervical Cancer and Fertility
The average age of cervical cancer patients is in the early 40s, so many women are younger than that and may not have started their families yet. In recent years, doctors have often found themselves treating the cervical cancer while also working to preserve a patient’s ability to conceive.
In the past, women diagnosed with cervical cancer had two primary treatment options: a radical hysterectomy—removing the uterus, cervix and part of the vagina—or radiation therapy to the pelvis. Both treatment options eliminated a woman’s ability to become pregnant.
The OSUCCC – James gynecologic oncology team offers a minimally invasive procedure known as a radical trachelectomy to preserve a woman’s ability to conceive post treatment. Unlike traditional hysterectomies, the procedure only requires a fraction of the woman’s reproductive tract tissue be removed, preserving her ability to get pregnant after surgery.
About 70 percent of the women who have had this procedure nationwide and then attempt to become pregnant have been successful. The procedure is only appropriate for certain women with early stage, localized disease.
Having cancer occupies your time and your thoughts. During the treatment process, you focus on one day at a time, and it can be difficult to imagine a life free from cancer months or years into the future. That is why the time of diagnosis is the best time to consider your options for preserving your fertility.
Why consider fertility preservation?
- Male infertility is a common consequence of treatment for many different types of cancer.
- Cancer treatments that pose a high risk for infertility include:
- Testicular, pelvic or total-body radiation
- Brain radiation
- Some surgeries and hormone treatments, as well as the drugs cisplatin and carboplatin, present a moderate risk of infertility.
- Infertility may be reversible following cancer treatment, but not in all cases.
- Some men have fertility issues before cancer treatment begins, increasing the chance of persistent fertility problems after treatment is complete.
- With assisted reproductive techniques, men and their partners are achieving pregnancy in greater numbers and in less time.
Options for Preserving Your Fertility
- Sperm cryopreservation – freezing sperm for later use
- Shielding of testicle – protection from radiation field
- Embryo banking – combining egg with sperm for storage
To schedule a consultation to discuss your fertility preservation options, call 614-293-4696.
Fertility Preservation and Reproductive Health
When you are told you have cancer, your focus is often on getting through treatment. Cancer survivors may have changes in their sex life, including the ability to have a child, during and after cancer, that may be short- or long-term. These changes are often caused by alterations such as:
- A side effect of certain medicines
- How you feel about yourself and your body
Cancer and Sexual Health
Not everyone who has cancer experiences sexual problems, but they are common. The OSUCCC – James offers the following resources to help you and your partner:
- Consultation for a personalizes sexual rehabilitation plan
- Medication with management
- Counseling with a psychologist or sex therapist
- Pelvic floor physical therapy
- Support groups
- Education classes
Our clinic is inclusive of all genders and sexual orientations
Reproductive health concerns addressed in survivorship include:
- Hormone replacement therapy for males and females
- Direct radiation effects to the reproductive organs
- Contraception and pregnancy safety considerations
Our team of specialist at The James will discuss options for you to consider based on factors that may affect your fertility, including:
- Your baseline fertility
- The type, amount and length of your cancer treatment
Options for women include:
- Egg freezing
- Embryo freezing
- Ovarian shielding
- Ovarian tissue freezing
- Ovarian transportation (oophoropexy)
Options for men include:
- Sperm banking
- Testicular sperm extraction
- Testicular tissue freezing
If you choose to store embryos or bank sperm or eggs for future in vitro fertilization (IVF), you will be referred to a reproductive endocrinology and infertility clinic.
For questions or to schedule an appointment with one of our fertility preservation experts, call the James Line at 614-293-5066.