Any type of cancer diagnosis can be devastating. You may wonder if you can survive and if you can ever have kids. Ovarian transposition can help fertility.
This is a surgical procedure that can help preserve your fertility by protecting your ovaries prior to your radiation therapy as part of cancer treatment. If you have been diagnosed with cancer, you will want to know what the procedure does and how it can help you.
What Happens With Ovarian Transposition Surgery?
Women who are within the childbearing period and have been diagnosed with cancer are often recommended ovarian transposition surgery. This takes place before a patient undergoes radiation treatment. The purpose of the procedure is to move the ovaries to an area of the body that is not going to be treated with radiation. Women with certain types of cancer need to have their ovaries situated elsewhere as a way to preserve fertility.
For example, a study examined a 28-year-old woman diagnosed with rectal cancer. A tumor could be felt through her vagina. After she had surgery to remove the tumor, she was recommended for an ovarian transposition due to the proximity of the cancer to the ovaries. She had given birth 19 months prior to her diagnosis, but the procedure would ensure that she could have more children in the future.
Where Are the Ovaries Repositioned With Surgery?
There are different methods for ovarian transposition surgery. In the past, the procedure was done medially by moving the ovaries to the back of the uterus. When the patient had radiation therapy, the ovaries were then protected using a lead shield that was placed on her abdomen. However, when this was done, it was still possible for the ovaries to absorb some radiation.
It has since been determined that it’s more protective for the ovaries to be transposed laterally and above the brim of the pelvis. This gives the patient the ability to undergo radiation therapy while minimizing its effects on the ovaries.
What to Know About Having Children After Cancer Treatment
If you have had ovarian transposition and have finished your cancer treatment, you might want to start having children. However, there are some things you should know:
- If your procedure involved your ovaries and fallopian tubes being removed from the uterus, they cannot be moved back into their proper position. As a result, you will need the help of a fertility specialist to get pregnant. You will not be able to get pregnant naturally.
- Even with ovarian transposition, your ovaries are still exposed to some level of radiation. It can lower your chances of getting pregnant using your own eggs, especially when your cancer treatment involves chemotherapy as well.
- You may want to ask your doctor if you can have your eggs frozen prior to your surgery. It gives you a better chance of having your own biological children. Your doctor can refer you to a reproductive endocrinologist if this is an option that’s available to you.
- Unfortunately, your uterus cannot be moved from the radiation field, which means it can suffer damage based on the amount of radiation you receive. Of course, this can affect whether you can get pregnant or carry a pregnancy at all. Speak with your oncologist to learn what your chances might be at being able to get pregnant and sustain a pregnancy.
What If You Have Ovarian Cancer?
Women who are diagnosed with ovarian cancer may have an especially challenging time if they want to have children. However, it’s not impossible, according to some studies.
Of course, just like with other types of cancers, if your ovarian cancer is detected early on, you have a much better chance of surviving. On top of that, you will also have much higher chances of being able to naturally conceive. However, your doctor will have to make sure that you’re healthy enough to sustain a pregnancy.
Along with other types of cancers, you will need a special surgery prior to radiation treatment that involves removing your healthy ovaries. Ovarian tissue transplant surgery is not the same as ovarian transposition surgery, but it ensures that your healthy ovaries are kept safe while you have radiation and chemotherapy. Once you are in remission, your ovaries can be transplanted back into your body.
It’s important to know that ovarian tissue transplant surgery is only recommended for women who are diagnosed with stage one or two ovarian cancer. After you have gone into remission, as long as you are in good health, you will have your ovaries put back into place in your body. This will then allow you to conceive naturally or with the help of a fertility specialist.
If you have to undergo treatment for cancer, all hope is not lost if you want a child. Ovarian transposition can help you retain your fertility. Even if you have challenges with conceiving naturally, a variety of methods is available to help you get pregnant.