Once cancer treatment is over, patients are often anxious to learn about the status of their fertility.
Fertility Testing For Women
Some women continue menstruating after cancer treatment. Others stop for a while before their periods continue. While menstruation may seem like a good sign for fertility, that isn’t always the case. It’s best to have comprehensive testing.
Cancer treatment can induce early menopause. So even if a woman still menstruates after treatment, it is uncertain how long she will continue.
The following blood tests can help estimate a woman’s ovarian follicle reserve:
- Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH)
- Estradiol (E2) (on the third day of menstrual cycle)
- Anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH)
An ultrasound on the 3rd day of menstrual cycle can give clues on the number of remaining antral follicles, which contain maturing oocytes.
If applicable, a clinician should also check the health of a woman’s uterus, cervix, and fallopian tubes to make sure they are healthy enough for conception and carrying a pregnancy.
Fertility Testing For Men
Men’s fertility may be assessed in the following ways:
- Semen analysis. Laboratory experts can use semen samples to evaluate the number, motility, and morphology of sperm as well as the presence of any infections that might affect fertility.
- Sperm function tests. These tests examine how well sperm cells perform. Experts may look at how long sperm cells live after ejaculation and their ability to fertilize an egg.
- Hormone tests. Checking hormone levels and function can determine whether hormonal issues are affecting the count and quality of sperm.
- Urinalysis. Some men have retrograde ejaculation after cancer treatment. When they ejaculate, semen travels backward into the bladder instead of forward out of the urethra. Retrograde ejaculation can be confirmed if sperm is found in the urine.
- Genetic tests. Cancer treatment can change the DNA structure of sperm cells. Genetic testing can reveal any abnormalities.
- American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO);“Fertility Concerns and Preservation for Men”;(Reviewed and approved: March 2014); http://www.cancer.net/coping-and-emotions/sexual-and-reproductive-health/fertility-concerns-and-preservation-men
- American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO);“Fertility Concerns and Preservation for Women”(Reviewed and approved: March 2014); http://www.cancer.net/coping-and-emotions/sexual-and-reproductive-health/fertility-concerns-and-preservation-women
- Mayo Clinic;“Male Infertility – Tests and Diagnosis”(June 13, 2014);
- OncoLink (Penn Medicine);Vachani, Carolyn, RN, MSN, AOCN;“Female Fertility and Cancer Treatment”;(Last modified: October 6, 2006); http://www.oncolink.org/coping/article.cfm?c=534&id=990
- OncoLink (Penn Medicine);Vachani, Carolyn, RN, MSN, AOCN;“Male Fertility and Cancer Treatment”;(Last modified: November 10, 2006); http://www.oncolink.org/coping/article.cfm?id=992&aid=1496
- Oncolog (MD Anderson Center);Munch, Joe;“Addressing Fertility Issues in Cancer Patients”;(January 2014);http://www2.mdanderson.org/depts/oncolog/articles/14/1-jan/1-14-1.html