UC Infertility Specialists Share Hope With LIVESTRONG Foundation
CINCINNATIóModern medicine gives young adults a better chance at surviving cancer and other serious diseases than ever before. The cures, however, such as chemotherapy, radiation and surgery, can sometimes kill the chances of reproducing.
Thatís why the University of Cincinnatiís Center for Reproductive Health has partnered with the Sharing Hope Program, a program created by the Lance Armstrong LIVESTRONG Foundation to provide educational, moral and financial support to patients whose medical treatment could rob them of biological parenthood.
"Most cancer patients are of reproductive age, and it can be very emotional and expensive for a young person to handle all thatís being thrown at themóa diagnosis, plus the risk of infertility,Ē says Steven Lindheim, MD, the reproductive endocrinologist who leads UC Healthís participation in Sharing Hope and the Oncofertility Consortium®.
The consortium is a national, interdisciplinary initiative designed to explore the reproductive future of cancer survivors and is supported by the National Institutes of Health. As one of 50 sites in the consortium, UC Health provides both men and women options for preserving their reproductive health with egg, embryo, sperm and ovarian tissue freezing.
In many cases, Lindheim says, these options are not covered by insurance; thus the partnering with LIVESTRONGís Sharing Hope. The foundation does not provide funding to patients, but instead has worked with companies and clinics to arrange for discounted services and donated medications for those who qualify.
Every case is unique, but according to the application guidelines a must is that the patient has not undergone any medical treatments prior to applying.
In most cases it takes less than two weeks to harvest eggs for preservation, Lindheim says, and treating physicians such as oncologists are doing a much better job of referring patients for infertility counseling.
"Preservation attempts are not necessarily cost prohibitive and donít always involve banking,Ē says Lindheim, adding that there are also medications that help protect the reproductive organs.
The UC Health Center for Reproductive Health is widely known for its in vitro fertilization program, which started in 1989 and is one of the areaís most experienced infertility centers, achieving pregnancy rates at or above the national average.
The center is a member of LIVESTRONGís Sharing Hope Program, which works to increase access to fertility preservation services for cancer patients.
To apply or for more information, please visit www.livestrong.org/fertilehope call the center at (513) 585-2355.