For most women, becoming a mother is a dream come true. For many, the path to giving birth to a child is as easy as breathing. But for some, the simple joy can take years of tears!
Infertility is not a dirty word. And yet, it is still a taboo in many cultures. No wonder then that many women suffer this life-shattering condition in silence.
But like any other medical condition, you can beat the blues of infertility too! Thanks to medical science, many women are going on to become mothers, albeit a little later than they would want!
Unfortunately, for an infertile person, the battle is far from over once they become mothers. Among the many worries plaguing women suffering from infertility, the threat of cancer also looms large.
So, does fertility treatment cause cancer? Are you embarking on infertility treatment but apprehensive about the risks? Or are you worried about the fallouts of your past fertility treatments?
How real are these worries? Let’s find out!
What Does Science Say?
Infertility treatments entail pumping your body with hordes of hormones. Can these hormones cause cancer, especially breast cancer? The scientific research remains inconclusive (1).
- Studies do indicate a slight increase in the number of women undertaking artificial reproductive technology (ART) developing breast cancer. But this can be because most women using ART are of an age when breast cancer becomes a common problem. So, is age or ART the cause? We can’t be sure.
- Now, the fact is that infertility is not a disease in itself. It is a condition that can happen for a variety of reasons. Various women are unable to conceive because they have endometriosis. Some women suffer from ‘unexplained’ infertility, which implies that there is no evident cause of their infertility. Research shows that women who come under the above two categories are prone to ovarian cancer (2). Infertility treatment does not even enter the equation here!
- Another study shows that the use of fertility drugs do not increase the general chance for borderline ovarian tumors. But the same study indicates that the use of progesterone (a component of ART) can cause an increase in the chance of serous borderline ovarian tumors (3).
- Until recently, there was wide speculation that Clomid, an ovulation-stimulating drug, could increase the risk of uterine and ovarian cancer. But recent studies have put that rumor to rest (4). You can safely use Clomid without worrying about getting cancer!
[ Read: Infertility Treatment – Gamete Intrafallopian Transfer (GIFT) ]
Does Fertility Treatment Cause Cancer? – The Truth!
Well, the truth is pretty straight forward. There is no clear link between fertility treatments and cancer among women. But infertility in itself increases your chances of developing cancer. That is why it is important that you go in for follow-up consultations if you are suffering from infertility. If you have endometriosis, you should surely be in touch with your doctor, just to be safe. The same applies if you have PCOS, which may increase your risk of developing endometrial, breast, and ovarian cancers (5).
Tips For Women Using ART:
Even though fertility drugs do no cause cancer, they do cause some nasty side effects. So, if you are planning to use ART in the hope of becoming a mother, please keep the following points in mind:
1. Side Effects Are Common:
Be ready for dizziness, upset stomach, bruising (in case of an injection), swelling, hot flashes, nausea, and headache. Obviously, you are not likely to face these side effects all at once! But many women report experiencing one or more of these side effects after undergoing ART or using fertility drugs.
[ Read: Fertility Drugs For Women ]
2. Dealing With Side Effects:
One of the best ways to deal with these uncomfortable side effects is to drink a lot of water! Try and stay at home if you are feeling particular ill. You can also use a painkiller if you are in pain.
3. Talk To Your Doctor:
If your symptoms become too bad, talk to your doctor. She may alter the dosage to make things a little more comfortable for you.
[ Read: Can Yeast Infection Affect Fertility ]
4. Head To The ER:
Rush to the doctor if you experience difficulty in breathing, tightness in your chest, or swelling of your lips, mouth or tongue. These signs may indicate a serious problem and require prompt medical attention.
[ Read: Effective Tips To Cope With Infertility ]
5. Learn To Trust:
Most importantly, follow your doctor’s advice. In most cases, your doctor will not prescribe fertility drugs for a prolonged period. Just trust her!
Don’t let fear keep you from living your dream! Cancer can be scary. But just because you have opted for fertility treatment does not make you its next victim!
Go on! You deserve a shot at motherhood!
Did you opt for fertility treatment or ART? Did you experience any adverse effects? Share your experience with us.
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