"Women diagnosed with cervical cancer frequently ask me if the disease will affect their fertility? While cervical cancer itself may not directly cause infertility, the treatments used to manage it can have a significant impact on a woman's ability to conceive”, says Dr Meenal Chidgupkar - Senior Consultant, Fertility and IVF, Apollo Fertility, Solapur, Maharashtra.
As a woman, the thought of infertility can be overwhelming and scary. It's a concern that can be at the forefront of our minds, particularly when we hear about conditions like cervical cancer. The possibility of infertility is a significant worry for those who are affected by cervical cancer, and it's essential to understand the link between the two.
What Is Cervical Cancer
Cervical cancer occurs when there is an abnormal growth and multiplication of cells in the cervix, which is the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina. It is often detected through a Pap smear or HPV test, which can identify abnormal cells in the cervix before they develop into cancer. While cervical cancer can be treated, it can also have long-term effects on a woman's reproductive health, including infertility.
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How Does Cervical Cancer Affect Fertility
Dr Chidgupkar said, “ Surgical procedures to remove cancerous cells from the cervix, such as a cone biopsy or radical hysterectomy, can lead to scarring or damage to the cervix and uterus, which can affect fertility. Additionally, radiation therapy and chemotherapy can cause damage to the reproductive system and lead to early menopause or ovarian failure.”
For example, surgery to remove the cervix or part of the uterus can make it difficult for sperm to reach the egg or for an embryo to implant in the uterus. Radiation therapy and chemotherapy can also damage the reproductive organs and disrupt the menstrual cycle, which can make it harder to get pregnant.
It is important to note that not all women who have cervical cancer will experience infertility. The risk of infertility depends on the stage and severity of the cancer, as well as the type of treatment used.
Also Read: Does Cystic Fibrosis Cause Infertility? Doctor Explains Its Impact
How To Prevent Infertility
It is important for women with cervical cancer who wish to preserve their fertility to discuss their options with their healthcare provider.
Dr Chidhupkar said, “Depending on the stage and extent of cancer, some women may be candidates for fertility-sparing treatments, such as trachelectomy or radical trachelectomy, which inlcuded the removal of the cervix while preserving the uterus.
Dr Chidhupkar further added that regular cervical cancer screenings and early detection are crucial for minimising the impact of the disease on fertility. By catching cervical cancer early, women can explore all possible treatment options and make informed decisions about their reproductive health. Ultimately, every woman's situation is unique, and it is important to work closely with a healthcare provider to create a treatment plan that prioritises both cancer management and fertility preservation.
If you are concerned about how cervical cancer may affect your reproductive health, don't hesitate to speak with your healthcare provider. By staying informed and taking action, you can reduce your risk of infertility and take control of your reproductive health. Remember, with the right care and support, there is hope for women with cervical cancer to not only survive but to thrive.