Fertility Preservation for Cancer Patients

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Cancer treatments like chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery can affect your ability to have children because of the impact on eggs and sperm. If you plan to have a family, fertility preservation can save your healthy eggs or sperm before your cancer treatment. Our fertility experts coordinate your care with your oncologists. Retrieving and storing eggs or sperm is safe and won’t compromise their quality -- or the success of your cancer treatments.

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How Cancer Treatment Impacts Fertility

While most medical treatments have little to no effect on reproductive health, some cancer treatments can damage the testes or ovaries. Surgery for gynecologic cancer, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy focused on the abdomen may result in temporary or permanent infertility as well as early menopause. Your risk depends on the diagnosis, the type of treatment, and the dose of medicine. Your oncologist can tell you if there’s a chance that treatment might affect your reproductive system. If you need to start cancer treatment immediately, we can see you within 48 hours of receiving a referral. 

Our Location

Duke Health offers fertility preservation services at Duke Health Center Arringdon in Morrisville.

Tests for Egg Retrieval

Everything we do is part of collaborative care with your oncologist. Our fertility providers consider your age, sex, medical history, and type of treatment to best understand your level of infertility risk. 

Anti-Müllerian Hormone Test

Drawing blood to check hormone levels helps us assess your ovarian reserve -- how many potential fertile egg cells you have. The results can determine what kind of medications you may need ahead of egg retrieval and how many eggs we may be able to extract.


Sonograms use high-frequency sound waves to produce images of your ovaries. They help us determine the quantity and health of your eggs and how to best retrieve them.  

New Patient Appointment

Onco-Fertility Services for Eggs

Our fertility team will coordinate with your oncologist to schedule any appointments around your treatments, if necessary. 

Collecting Eggs for Fertility Preservation

The process of collecting eggs requires between 8 and 10 appointments over 2 to 3 weeks. During this time, you will take medication to help your eggs develop and mature. At each visit, we’ll draw blood for testing and may perform an ultrasound to track the growth of the eggs.

When your eggs are ready to be extracted, we’ll perform a 15-minute, minimally invasive procedure at our clinic. During the extraction, a fertility specialist will use a thin needle to extract one egg at a time. Each egg will be placed in a test tube labeled with your name and a unique identification number that can be tracked with an individualized code provided to you.

Freezing Eggs

Your eggs will remain frozen until you are ready to use them. They’ll be safely transported to a secure preservation facility until you request them. This option allows you to choose whether the egg will be fertilized with sperm from a partner or a donor in the future.

Freezing Embryos

You may choose to have your eggs fertilized to create embryos before freezing. When thawed, we can implant them in you or a surrogate. This process requires you to decide if the eggs will be fertilized by sperm from a partner or a donor.

Hormone Therapy to Preserve Eggs

If your providers determine there is potential to get pregnant naturally after your cancer treatment, we can prescribe a series of hormone injections to suppress your ovaries. This medicine temporarily prevents your ovaries from releasing eggs so your ovaries are “asleep” during your treatment. Once you stop the medication after treatment, your periods will slowly return to normal if an egg supply remains. 

Restrictions for Onco-Fertility

Some requirements are necessary to ensure the health of you and your eggs. Our providers cannot perform fertility preservation services with eggs for people who are aged 44 or older. Older eggs are not typically healthy enough to be used in the future. People with a body mass index over 44 may also not be candidates for outpatient treatment at our clinic due to safety requirements typically reserved for inpatient care in a hospital setting.

Onco-Fertility Services for Sperm

It’s best to collect semen before cancer treatment starts to have the best chance of getting as many healthy sperm as possible. 

Semen Analysis

If you plan to freeze sperm before you begin cancer treatment, a semen analysis provides information about the volume, health, and viability of your sperm. Based on this information, we may recommend a one-time collection or multiple visits to ensure we capture and save the healthiest sperm possible.

Collecting Sperm for Cryopreservation

Collecting sperm for cryopreservation (freezing) is most often done in our clinic via masturbation. After a consultation with a provider, you will provide a semen sample. If viable sperm cannot be collected, a provider will perform an outpatient procedure in our clinic to retrieve sperm from a testicle. This involves applying a local anesthetic to your groin and inserting a thin needle into your testes to extract sperm.

Freezing Sperm

Once collected, sperm can be stored in a frozen state indefinitely before use to begin a pregnancy. Your sperm will be safely and securely transferred for long-term storage at a preservation facility. 

Cancer Support Services

Learn about all of the cancer support services we offer to you and your loved ones. 

Why Choose Duke

Step-by-Step Guidance
If your cancer team identifies the need for a fertility preservation consultation, our patient navigator will connect you with experts on our team including providers and nurses trained in fertility services, financial counselors, and therapists. We will be in contact with you throughout your time at the Duke Fertility Center and coordinate your care with your cancer team.

Helping You Navigate Financial Options
Total costs are different for everyone, and most insurance policies do not cover fertility preservation. However, there are financial assistance programs available to help with costs. Once your oncologist refers you to the Duke Fertility Center, a patient navigator will contact you. They’ll walk you through your options for financial assistance and can help you complete the necessary paperwork. 

Peer and Professional Support 
The Duke Cancer Patient Support Program holds a monthly virtual fertility support group. They also offer professionally-facilitated sessions for people facing fertility concerns due to cancer. 

Best Cancer Hospital in North Carolina

Where you receive your cancer care is important. Duke University Hospital is proud of our team and the exceptional care they provide. They are why our cancer program is nationally ranked, and the highest-ranked program in North Carolina, according to U.S. News & World Report for 2024–2025.