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This chemotherapy drug helped this previously infertile woman ovulate and get pregnant


It’s no secret that chemotherapy leads to a whole host of negative side effects including fatigue, easy bruising and bleeding, nausea and vomiting, and more – but for this previous infertile woman from Florida, United States, chemotherapy also helped her get pregnant.

Prior to this, the woman had tried – and failed – to get pregnant for a whopping 14 years. As she had been diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), her doctor recommended her to lose weight in order to stabilize her menstrual cycles. However, she was still unable to get pregnant after doing so; the various natural fertility treatments she tried also didn’t bring about any noticeable results.


Discovering she had cancer

According to the Journal of Medical Case Reports, the woman went to the emergency room after becoming aware of a lump on the left side of her abdomen, and experiencing sharp pain in the same area. After doing imaging scans at the hospital, it was revealed that she had pancreatic cancer. After undergoing an operation to remove the cancerous growth from her pancreas, the woman started on the first of four rounds of chemotherapy with gemcitabine, and followed this up with radiation treatments.

Gemcitabine: the drug that helped her conceive

For those who aren’t familiar with gemcitabine, this is a chemotherapy drug which is known to damage women’s ovaries. Dr. Stephen J. Carlan, who reported on the woman’s case, notes that it is highly bizarre that gemcitabine restored this infertile woman’s ability to ovulate and become pregnant, when it is toxic to most women’s ovaries.


After the woman completed her cancer treatments, she suddenly started having regular menstrual cycles. 15 months after she had been diagnosed with her cancer, she received news that she had been six weeks pregnant, and just suffered a miscarriage. After nearly three years, she then went on to conceive again, and this time went on to have a healthy baby by vaginal delivery.

How gemcitabine restored the infertile woman’s fertility

How on earth could the gemcitabine have helped the previously infertile woman conceive? According to Dr. Stephen J. Carlan, it’s likely that the drug “restored the woman’s fertility” by having the same effect on her body as partial ovarian destruction. This surgical procedure, which is known colloquially as “ovarian drilling”, destroys part of a woman’s ovary. The exact mechanics behind it is unknown, but ovarian drilling helps to trigger ovulation in women who do not see any results even after consuming medication which induces ovulation.

Fertility consultation with BeNatural’s fertility coach, Marie Otsuka

If you and your partner would like to learn more about conceiving, come down for a 45-minute consultation with Marie Otsuka, BeNatural’s fertility coach. In this session, Marie will seek to understand the couple’s situation, and offer insights she’s gained through her 10 years of experience in working with infertile Singaporeans. Slots are limited and on a first come first serve basis; contact us here to schedule an appointment!

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