Conversation Prompts for Discussion of Female Fertility Preservation

Parent to Medical Provider

The first set of questions is intended for parents to get fundamental information from their medical provider.  PORF uses the term “medical provider,” because medical practices vary in how they interface with parents and patients. Sometimes the nurse practitioner, or physician assistant is a more comfortable source of information than the primary physician.  Some practices have a special representative who addresses issues of fertility preservation.  It is most important that parents speak to someone who is knowledgeable and a good listener.

Post-pubertal Questions:

  1. Will the treatment program that you recommend likely compromise fertility?
  2. What is the likelihood that cancer cells will be present in the ovary?
  3. What will be done to insure that cancer cells are not reintroduced into the body when the preserved tissue is replanted?
  4. Will this surgery cause additional pain, or delay the start of treatment?
  5. In the event of a pregnancy, is there any reason to believe the cancer, or the cancer treatment could endanger the fetus?

Pre-pubertal Questions:

  1. Will the treatment program that you recommend likely compromise fertility?
  2. What is the likelihood that cancer cells will be present in the ovarian tissue?
  3. What will be done to insure that cancer cells are not reintroduced into the body when the preserved tissue is replanted?
  4. Will this surgery cause additional pain, or delay the start of treatment?
  5. In the event of a pregnancy, is there any reason to believe the cancer, or the cancer treatment could endanger the fetus?

Parent to Parent

Answers to the questions above will give parents a good basis for their own discussion.  Parents will be able to assess the value of the procedure for their own daughter.  The age of their daughter and the promise of research bearing fruit are two important considerations for parents to discuss.

Post-pubertal Questions:

  1. Are we comfortable having a discussion about ovary removal and preservation with our daughter?
  2. If not, do we know of someone who would be comfortable having such a conversation?
  3. Does our religion or our culture take issue with this procedure?
  4. If so, should we consult with a religious consultant before we talk with our daughter?
  5. Will we be able to afford the cost of storing the tissue?

Pre-pubertal Questions:

  1. Since this research is relatively new, are we certain that it will not make our daughter more uncomfortable, or delay her treatment?
  2. Will our insurance pay for the research procedure?
  3. Will we be able to afford the cost of storing the tissue?
  4. Should we discuss this research with a religious consultant?

Parent to Religious Consultant

Post-pubertal Questions:

  1. How does our religion view cryo-preservation of ovarian tissue?

Pre-pubertal Questions:

  1. How does our religion view cryo-preservation of ovarian tissue?

To be hopeful in a time of tremendous stress is a demonstration of strength.  Parents need support, encouragement, and courage to address the issue of fertility preservation.  However, by its very nature, this is a discussion of hope for the future.  We would not have this hope without the miracle of modern medicine.  Since the vast majority of children with cancer live vibrant, productive lives, a parent’s gift of fertility may be well worth the struggle.