Fertility issues can strike when you least expect it -- even in young women in their 20s, attempting to conceive their first or second child. It seems like going for IVF treatment would be one of the last resorts for this group of women, but it definitely happens.
Although across all age groups IVF hasn't been shown to increase risk of breast cancer, younger women are a special case, according to a new study out of the University of Western Australia that followed 21,025 women for an average of 16 years. IVF may double their risk of breast cancer over the following 15 years. Even though this age group's risk is already low to begin with, this is still unnerving!
I guess it shouldn't really come as that much of a surprise, given that estrogen -- a hormone very well known to fuel certain forms of breast cancer -- soar up to 13 times higher than normal during an IVF cycle. It's why upon finding out that she had breast cancer, Giuliana Rancic had to stop her fertility treatments immediately.
Sure, women are already counseled on the risks associated with IVF, but one thing it seems like the medical industry keeps choosing to ignore is how a woman -- especially a young woman's -- natural hormone balance plays into all of this.
A dear friend of mine, in her 20s, was told several months ago that she might need to try IVF to get pregnant, but the fact of the matter is that she has PCOS. And there are various lifestyle and natural/conventional treatments that directly address androgen (male hormone) excess, which could help her get pregnant. Methods she should definitely try before jumping the gun with intense, expensive, and risky IVF.
And given how tainted our food supply is with antibiotics and hormones these days, plenty of young women are exhibiting symptoms of estrogen dominance, which can interfere with fertility. But since estrogen dominance isn't one of those conditions conventional docs will readily diagnose, it doesn't seem out of the question that they could fail to address it while signing that same woman up for IVF. Bad news!
Of course there will be instances wherein 20-somethings need IVF to conceive, and it is a perfectly safe bet. But hopefully this research will implore medical professionals and patients to consider hormone balance (and the potential downstream negatives associated with such a huge blast of estrogen) as a part of the risk-reward equation.
Does this news surprise you?
Image via Jerry Bunkers/Flickr