An ovarian cancer diagnosis is scary and, if you have yet to complete your family, you may be very concerned about whether or not you can have children.
The answer to whether you can carry a pregnancy depends on the stage of ovarian cancer you have, the type of treatment needed, whether both ovaries are affected, and the age you are when you are diagnosed.
Women who are diagnosed with ovarian cancer in the early stages, or where only one ovary is affected, may not need to have both ovaries removed. The remaining ovary can continue to produce eggs.
A study published in Cancer compared the outcomes of 754 early stage young patients who had both ovaries surgically removed and 432 women who kept at least part of one ovary.
Over the next five years, both groups of women had similar survival rates, with at least 91 percent still alive after five years, reported WebMD.
The decision on what treatment a woman should have that might preserve her fertility, and her survival, is best determined by a gynecologic oncologist.
Maintaining fertility after surgery, chemotherapy or radiation treatments may be difficult, so all other options should be explored.
If a woman is able to keep her uterus despite having both ovaries removed, then she can consider in vitro fertilization. This will likely be performed using a donor egg. There may not be enough time for a woman to take the hormones needed to produce and have her own eggs harvested and frozen, before proceeding with treatment for her ovarian cancer.
IVF would take place after a donor egg is fertilized with sperm from the woman’s husband. After cancer treatment has been finished, the doctor will want the woman to wait for a certain number of months, or even years, to allow her body to heal, before attempting IVF.
After this healing period, the woman is given estrogen and progesterone to build up her uterus before receiving the donor egg for implantation. The doctor will give the woman a pregnancy test, two weeks after implantation of one to three embryos.