Fertility

Cancer treatment can sometimes lead to infertility, which can be difficult to come to terms with. So if you have concerns about your fertility you should speak to your Doctor or Consultant.

If you have been told that you are probably infertile and are struggling to cope, then ask to be referred to the late effects team at the hospital or speak to your General Practitioner (GP) about counselling. The professionals can explain the options for having a family in the future.

It is still possible to get pregnant, or get someone pregnant when having treatment, but this is not advisable, as the treatment could harm the baby. Doctors advise the use of barrier contraception (condoms & diaphragms) if you are having sex during treatment to prevent chemotherapy being passed on in bodily fluids.

Women

Tests on your fertility status can be done by your GP or consultant. These tests cannot guarantee a positive result without you attempting to get pregnant, but they can give you an indication as to your fertility.

Periods are sometimes affected by chemotherapy. If your period stops then it does not mean that you are infertile. Often periods return after treatment has finished. You can still get pregnant if your periods have stopped as egg production may continue.

An early menopause is a side effect of treatment and can mean that it might not be possible to delay having children for as long as you might have previously. If you experience menopausal symptoms (hot flushes, insomnia, joint ache, night sweats) you can ask your Doctor for hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to reduce the symptoms, although this will not reverse the menopause.

Men

Most men are given the opportunity to sperm bank (this is a way in which your sperm is collected and stored) before beginning chemotherapy. The chemotherapy might not affect your fertility, but if you are concerned or unsure then your GP can do regular sperm counts for you. Sometimes sperm counts are permanently affected by chemotherapy, but sometimes they can return to normal. If you have sperm banked and are infertile then the banked sperm can be used to get your partner pregnant later; your doctor will be able to discuss this with you.

Occasionally, treatment can affect the nerves around the genital area and affect performance. This is usually temporary but you can discuss any concerns with your Doctor.

Find more information about fertility at Cancer Help.

Receive infertility support from Talking About Trying.