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Research studies that have looked at the impact of a BRCA mutation on fertility have yielded mixed results. A study done by Steven Narod and colleagues showed no association between BRCA mutations and infertility. A separate study showed that women with BRCA1 mutations had fewer eggs retrieved when undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) compared to women without BRCA mutations. Researchers at the University of California at San Francisco studied women with BRCA1/2 mutations who had not had prophylactic surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation, to determine when they went through natural menopause. Compared to women without known mutations, mutation carriers experienced menopause sooner than women who had not been tested for the mutation.
In addition to reproductive issues caused by BRCA mutations, chemotherapy used to treat breast cancer can also lead to early menopause.
The procedure for PGD includes in-vitro fertilization (IVF)—a fertility treatment where the women’s eggs are removed and fertilized in a test tube. When the embryos reach a certain size, one cell is removed and is tested for the hereditary disease in question. Once the genetic status is determined, the parents can decide which embryos they want implanted.
Very little has been written on the safety of fertility medication and in-vitro fertilization in people with a BRCA mutation or hereditary cancer risk. In 2008, Dr. Steven Narod and his colleagues published research that suggests that fertility medications and in-vitro fertilization do not increase the breast cancer risk in women with mutations. Larger research studies will be needed to confirm these results.