Cervical cancer is one of the common cancers that women suffer from. It affects a woman’s fertility and makes it difficult for her to conceive naturally. Though infertility after cervical cancer is inevitable, a woman can preserve her fertility by freezing her eggs. Cervical cancer begins in the cervix of a woman that is the lower, narrow end part of the uterus. Certain strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection can be the reason behind the occurrence of this cancer. Moreover, having a weak immune system, vices like smoking, and having sexually transmitted infections (STIs) chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis are also the culprits behind it. The symptoms a woman can exhibit are bloody vaginal discharge, bleeding after intercourse or even between the periods, and pelvic pain. One will be recommended treatment by an expert after monitoring her condition. But if the cancer is in the advanced stage, then extensive treatment is needed that can take a toll on a woman’s fertility.
Dr Bharati Dhorepatil, Consultant Fertility Expert, NOVA IVF Pune 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.”
Dr Preethika Shetty, Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, 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.”
“Infertility due to cervical cancer can be distressing and is a matter of concern. A woman may not feel accomplished, will be anxious, stressed, depressed, lonely, and get bogged down. It can be devastating for a woman to know that her reproductive organ is no longer working. 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,” concluded Dr Dhorepatil.