Fertility and cancer treatment

couple in doctor's office

Is my treatment likely to affect my fertility?

Your chances of infertility depend on:

  • Your fertility before treatment – for example if you have a low sperm count before treatment / How near a woman is to the menopause
  • Your age – fertility is more likely to return in younger people, but it depends on the type of treatment and the dose
  • The type of cancer you have
  • The type of treatment used – e.g. radiotherapy, hormone therapy
  • If you have any other health problems

How can treatment affect fertility?

Female fertility

Some cancer treatments can damage the eggs in your ovaries or affect the hormones that make your body release eggs and get ready for pregnancy. Read more about fertility issues for women.

Male fertility

Some treatments can damage sperm, reduce your sperm count or affect your ability to ejaculate.

Read more about fertility issues for men.

Talk to your doctor before treatment starts

Talk to your cancer specialist before treatment starts about how it could affect your fertility and your options. Even if you have no immediate plans to start a family, you might still want to consider your options for the future.

For example, it may be possible to freeze your eggs or sperm before treatment starts. Read more about freezing your eggs or storing your sperm (sperm banking).

Bring your partner, so they can ask questions too and discuss it together.

Many couples have had healthy babies after one or the other has been treated for cancer.

It’s important to think about contraception, even if your treatment is likely to affect your fertility. Cancer treatments can harm a developing baby. Your consultant can tell you if you need to use contraception and for how long.

Fertility after cancer treatment

Cancer treatments can affect the organs and hormones that help you to reproduce (have children). 
Infertility can be temporary or it can be permanent. The effect that treatment has on fertility can vary. There are many factors that effect it such as age, type of cancer, where in the body the cancer is, the type of treatment you have and how long you have the treatment for. Read more about fertility after cancer treatment

For more information

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