When it comes to your fertility – or any medical issue – it’s important to be a strong advocate for yourself. Even if you are not currently facing infertility, you may have reasons for concerns about your fertility, including perhaps advanced age or certain medical conditions that could affect your fertility. In that case, it is important that you advocate for yourself. Retrieve information for making informed decisions about your options when you are ready to have children.
We often wait for our doctors to raise the issue of fertility, or wait until we actually have trouble conceiving. However, recent advances in science give us more options and a greater ability to plan for our future. Even when faced with a serious illness, there are steps you can take to preserve your fertility during treatment. It is important that fertility becomes a topic of conversation between a patient and their general practitioners, as well as their disease specialists.
1. If you have a concern about your fertility, raise it with your doctor. Keep asking questions until you get an answer that is satisfactory to you. If you do not get an answer that is satisfactory to you, consult a reproductive endocrinologist.
Sometimes you just get a “feeling” that you’re not getting the right – or complete – answers. If the answers you receive are not clear, confer with a reproductive endocrinologist.
At the end of the day, you are your own best advocate. If you are concerned about something, keep asking until you get an answer that is comprehensive to you.
2. In particular, if you are being treated for a serious illness, seek answers regarding your fertility and add a reproductive specialist to your care team.
Certain treatments for serious illnesses, such as autoimmune diseases or cancer, may impact your ability to get pregnant. In my case, chemotherapy and steroid treatments that I took over a course of years for severe lupus nephritis negatively impacted my fertility.
Physicians who focus on a specific disease specialty are experts at treating the associated disease, but may not know how the treatment will impact fertility later on. If you are fairly young when you undergo the treatment, the doctor may be more focused (and perhaps rightly so) on the more immediate issue of getting you back to health, as opposed to the long-term effects of the treatment. In addition, we are still learning how certain treatments impact fertility as more and more people undergo them. And then find themselves facing fertility issues later on. This is why a “team” approach to your health care may be appropriate.
Amanda is a partner and member of the Board at Waller Lansden Dortch and Davis, LLP, where she focuses her work in the healthcare industry and helping clients navigate through the regulations and compliance issues related to complex transactions.
Having managed multiple chronic illnesses, Amanda is an “expert” patient. In particular, Amanda was diagnosed with lupus in her early twenties and was put on a regiment of chemotherapy and high dose steroids for two years, while she suspected her fertility might be at risk.
Amanda was drawn to the mission of the Fertility Foundation of Texas to help local families achieve their dreams of growing their families. She is a member of the Foundation’s Advisory Board.
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