Early after my diagnosis, the one key thing on my mind was the impact chemotherapy would have on my fertility and my future dreams for a family. Unfortunately, I like many others, was informed that due to the staging of my cancer, I did not have time to pursue fertility options. However, there has been significant developments made in this field, meaning that even for individuals with advanced stage cancer, where time is everything, there may be options available. However, the sooner you can speak to somebody regarding these options the better.
Here I provide an overview of the process and resources that are available to help you find a fertility service quickly and the steps that need to be taken, from my personal experience and subsequent research. Some oncology or haematology units may have established links with fertility centres and referrals immediate. But this is to help anyone, who isn’t fortunate to have that established pathway in place at their local facility.
Finding Fertility Expert
Resources about choosing clinic are available at: https://www.hfea.gov.uk/choose-a-clinic/
Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) is the governing body for fertility clinics. They have a database search facility to enable you to look for registered clinics; https://www.hfea.gov.uk/choose-a-clinic/clinic-search/ It may be that not all NHS or clinics are on this database, so you may wish to do additional search into your local centres.
Availability of fertility services through the NHS are variable across the country. Treatments may not be funded via the NHS or individual funding requests (IFR) for funding may need to be submitted to the local clinical commissioning group. The earlier in the process you can access a fertility consultant to discuss options the better to allow time for these aspects. To find out information for your local area, search your ‘Individual funding requests’ and the name of your local Clinical Commisioning Group (CCG). If you have private health insurance then contact your private insurer directly to see if they will cover you.
Services utilise clinical guidelines to determine the management and treatment of patients. Here you can find the link to the guidance specifically for fertility preservation in cancer: https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/cg156/chapter/Recommendations#people-with-cancer-who-wish-to-preserve-fertility