Physical Health

Understand Treatment Impact on Fertility

Fertility is a concern for many women of reproductive age living with metastatic breast cancer (MBC). Cancer and cancer treatment can impact fertility, especially if your doctor recommends ovarian suppression as part of your cancer treatment regimen.

What is Ovarian Suppression?

Ovarian suppression is medicine, radiation therapy or surgery to stop the ovaries from working. The impact on fertility may be permanent.

  • Ovarian suppression is a common approach for young women who have hormone receptor-positive (HR+) MBC because it helps stop estrogen from reaching a tumor and helping it to grow.

    • Also called ovarian ablation or early menopause, ovarian suppression is similar to menopause because it stops menstruation and lowers hormone levels.

    • This type of treatment can be given as medicine or through radiation therapy or surgery. Surgery will permanently end menstrual periods and begin early menopause.

  • If you are concerned about fertility or your doctor recommends ovarian suppression as part of your treatment plan, here are some questions to ask:

    • Does ovarian suppression impact my ability to get pregnant in the future?

    • What options for ovarian suppression do I have if I want to start a family?

    • Are there ways to preserve my fertility before or after treatment?

    • Will it be possible to pause my breast cancer treatment in order to become pregnant?

It may be possible to have a healthy child while living with MBC, depending on your type of cancer and personal medical history. Share your family planning wishes with your health care team before you get started with treatment so they can discuss options with you and factor it into your cancer treatment plan.

Fertility is not the only unique challenge that younger women with MBC encounter. You may be in school or just starting your career. The women in this video were each diagnosed with MBC at a young age, and share their experiences and how they find balance while trying to maintain quality of life.

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