What to expect when you meet with an oncofertility specialist

For people who hope to have children of their own, a cancer diagnosis can derail those plans. However, thanks to oncofertility experts, who serve as a bridge between oncology and reproductive medicine, patients have several reproductive options to explore. “While there are many paths to parenthood — such as foster care, adoption and embryo donation — my goal is to try to expand those options as much as possible to include having children with your own eggs or your own sperm,” says Laurie McKenzie, M.D., associate professor in Gynecologic Oncology and Reproductive Medicine. McKenzie’s mission to empower patients to make the best decisions for their future family is both professional and personal. She and her husband, a leukemia survivor, underwent fertility preservation when he was diagnosed with cancer more than 20 years ago. “If it weren’t for fertility preservation, we wouldn't have the family that we have,” she says. “I certainly understand how important this is for patients.” Here, McKenzie discusses why it’s important to discuss your fertility early and what to expect during your first meeting with an oncofertility specialist. Why is it important to talk about fertility preservation before treatment? Patients typically have more future family building options in the future if I meet with them before they start cancer treatment. For example, if chemotherapy is part of their cancer treatment plan, egg freezing and sperm banking is contraindicated during most chemotherapy regimens. This means that for the vast majority of patients, it’s too late to cryopreserve eggs, sperm or embryos once they've already started chemotherapy. What questions will patients be asked when they first meet with...