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GnRH Agonist

Obstetric gynecologist Molly Moravek and Rogel Cancer Center fertility preservation coordinator, Erin Ellman, talk about the importance of fertility preservation for those of child bearing age who have cancer.

Another option to help a woman diagnosed with cancer to preserve her fertility is an injectable drug called a GnRH agonist. These medications shut down the signals the brain sends to the ovaries to develop eggs, creating a state similar to menopause.

Here’s how GnRH Agonist works:

Cancer cells divide and reproduce. Chemotherapy detects cells in the body that are actively dividing (like cancer cells) and attacks them. GnRH agonists stop the activity in the ovaries, “tricking” the chemotherapy drugs into ignoring the ovaries.

A 2019 Michigan Medicine review of all the clinical research on this approach concluded that GnRH agonists appear to be effective in preserving ovarian function, and that these medicines are effective in counteracting the chemotherapy drugs used in breast cancer. Another benefit of GnRH agonist therapy is that it can be combined with other fertility preservation options.

GnRH agonist therapy is moving quickly from an experimental option to a more standard therapy. It is currently offered by the Fertility Preservation Program.