USC Fertility

Fertility Preservation for Cancer in Teens

Answers about fertility preservation for cancer in teens

When cancer strikes a young person, everyone’s first focus is on saving that child’s life. Parents of teens are determined to give their children every chance of living healthy, happy, full lives in the future – including the chance to have families of their own. Fertility preservation for cancer in teens can make it possible for many teens to protect their sperm or eggs during cancer treatment so that they have a chance to have biological children when they are older.

Depending on whether your teen has hit puberty, fertility preservation may be possible. Our Los Angeles oncofertility experts can help you determine whether your child is a candidate for fertility preservation treatment, and will work closely with your child’s oncologist and other specialists to minimize any risks to your teen’s health.

Types of fertility preservation for cancer in teens

Our Los Angeles oncofertility center offers proven approaches for fertility preservation for cancer in teens who have reached puberty or are near puberty. For all of these options, fertility preservation must happen before cancer treatment starts.

For teen girls who have reached puberty – typically between ages 9 and 15 – the most effective fertility preservation treatments involve IVF.

For egg freezing, ovarian stimulation medications are taken so that multiple eggs can be retrieved and frozen for future fertilization. The process is the same for embryo freezing, except that after egg retrieval, the eggs are fertilized with sperm, typically from an anonymous donor, and the resulting embryos are frozen for future transfer.

Other options are to shield the ovaries from radiation, or to surgically relocate them away from the area to be irradiated, a procedure called ovarian transposition.

Most girls who receive cancer treatment go on to have normal menstrual cycles, and many are fertile as young adults. However, teen cancer patients may be at higher risk of early menopause, and should see a fertility specialist throughout their lives to determine if future fertility preservation efforts are warranted.

For boys who have reached puberty, sperm freezing should be considered before cancer treatment. Most boys have sperm in their semen by the time they turn 13, but fertility testing can determine whether sperm are present and whether semen volume is adequate for fertility preservation for cancer. Once banked, sperm can be stored indefinitely and used to father a child through intrauterine insemination or IVF.

For preadolescent boys in whom sperm have not yet developed, there are no proven therapies to preserve future fertility. Experimental therapies, such as testicular tissue extraction and freezing, offer hope that frozen germ cell stem cells can one day be used to produce mature sperm, but techniques to do so do not yet exist.

Explore all options

It’s important for teens of all ages to understand the potential effects of cancer treatment on their future fertility, and to be involved in decisions made about their care. In each case, our oncofertility specialists will work closely with you and your child, as well as your child’s oncologist and other specialists, to determine a course of action that keeps your child’s health as the primary focus.

For information about fertility preservation for cancer in teens, contact us to schedule a consultation with our Los Angeles oncofertility specialists.