How to Prevent Chemo-Induced Ovarian Failure


Studies continue to support the use of gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists to help reduce the toxic effects of chemotherapy.

An NIH Study (Phase III POEMS trial) of a gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonist (Goserelin) has been associated with a lower risk of ovarian failure for patients with receptor-negative breast cancer who were undergoing chemotherapy. The study showed that at 2 years after chemotherapy, 22% of those treated routinely experienced ovarian failure compared to 8% who received Goserelin during their chemotherapy. Ovarian failure was defined as 6 months without a period and FSH hormone levels in the menopausal range. Although not all women in the study attempted pregnancy, the women who received Goserelin were twice as likely to have a successful delivery or ongoing pregnancy at the time of the study. The most common side effects of the Goserelin were hot flashes, mood changes, and vaginal dryness. There was no difference in 5 year survival.

This is encouraging news for women who have a recent diagnosis of cancer and are planning chemotherapy. While some women may wish to undergo a 2 week IVF-like cycle to freeze their eggs for the future, other women may not be able or wish to freeze eggs, therefore a monthly shot may be their best option to preserve their fertility for the future.

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