Mumbai : Gynecologists and fertility experts suggest that the infertility caused by one the most common cancers, cervical cancer, can be deterred through oocyte cryopreservation or freezing eggs. Though infertility after cervical cancer is inevitable, experts highlighted that preserving eggs can help increase chances of conception.
Certain strains of the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus (HPV) can contribute to the development of cervical cancer. Moreover, having a weak immune system, vices like smoking, and having sexually transmitted infections (STIs) chlamydia, gonorrhoea, and syphilis can also contribute to its development. The symptoms usually witnessed are bloody vaginal discharge, bleeding after intercourse or between the periods, and pelvic pain. Although the treatment depends on the condition, the treatment can effectively take a toll on fertility of women according to experts.
Elucidating on how cervical cancer can lead to infertility, Dr Bharati Dhorepatil,consultant fertility expert, Nova IVF Kharadi said, “Chemotherapy and radiation therapy impacts one’s fertility. If one has undergone a hysterectomy which is done when one doesn’t get her Pap smear done and the cervical cancer is not detected at an early stage, then she will not be able to conceive. And if the ovaries are simultaneously removed, then a woman will fail to produce eggs too leading to infertility. If cervical cancer is managed with the help of radiation therapy, then the rays to kill cancerous cells will expose one’s ovaries to radiation, damage them and one will not be able to produce eggs. This can lead to premature menopause. The one whose uterus is exposed to radiation or the one taking chemotherapy drugs may have greater chances of miscarriage or premature birth due to the lack of blood flow to the uterus. Even treatment for precancerous cells present in the cervix like loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP) and cone biopsy cause infertility as the part of the cervix is removed during these procedures. These procedures lead to cervical stenosis owing to which the sperms and eggs cannot unite, one a woman will not be able to achieve pregnancy.”
Talking about effects of infertility, Dr Preethika Shetty, consultant obstetrician & gynecologist, Motherhood Hospitals, Kharadi said, “A radical trachelectomy can be done during the 1a or 1b stages of cervical cancer wherein the entire cervix or tissue next to the cervix will be removed. But a woman can still become pregnant after this procedure. One will have to discuss with the expert before initiating the cervical cancer treatment and clear all the doubts regarding it. Infertility leads to a rollercoaster of emotions right from hope to fear, and it can be difficult for couples to endure it together. This emotional disparity causes tension in the relationship and even stressful feelings.”
Concluding that egg-preservation can help in delaying pregnancy, Dr Dhorepatil said, “Those women who wish to preserve their fertility are referred to a fertility consultant who can turn their dream of experiencing motherhood into reality. Egg freezing can be a good option for such women. Egg freezing (oocyte cryopreservation) is the method during which the eggs are taken from the woman’s ovaries. Then the unfertilized eggs are stored and frozen for future use. This procedure is suitable for a woman who wants to postpone her pregnancy due to career aspirations, one who is taking cancer treatment that impacts fertility, post-menopausal women, and one having endometriosis,”