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"Can one harvest eggs after a hysterectomy?"
I'm a 29-year-old woman who was just diagnosed with ovarian cancer. I may have to get a hysterectomy as a result, but I still want to have my own children some day. Will it be possible to harvest my eggs for that purpose after my hysterectomy?
You should be assessed by an gynecological oncologist comprehensively. If you have ben diagnosed with ovarian cancer, you will likely need to have both your ovaries and uterus removed. This will make it impossible for you to have your own biological children or carry a pregnancy.
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The ovaries are storage organisms for oocytes ("eggs"). The uterus is the home for the growing baby. If you have your uterus removed, but still have your ovaries, it is possible to harvest eggs from the ovaries. These eggs will need to be fertilized with sperm (from your partner) in order to be preserved. Preserving eggs alone, without fertilization, is an experimental technique that is not widely available and has not consistently resulted in successful pregnancies. Harvesting eggs from the ovaries requires medications to stimulate your ovaries. Certain types of ovarian cancers can grow in response to this stimulation so it is important to discuss this with an oncologist before you go for egg harvesting. If you receive chemotherapy, this can also affect your fertility and make your ovaries less functional and damage your eggs. If you have your ovaries removed, you will also need to take hormone replacement therapy in order to avoid the adverse effects of menopause. You should discuss pregnancy options, cancer treatment and fertility with your gynecological oncologist before choosing the best course of action.
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