Infertility after childhood cancer

Eggs and sperm

When you’re coping with your child’s cancer diagnosis, it may be hard to think about how their treatment might affect their ability to have children in the future (their fertility). 

But it’s important to talk to your child’s healthcare team about whether their treatment might affect their fertility. For example, certain chemotherapy medicines may affect your child’s fertility. Radiotherapy to the tummy / pelvis area may also cause infertility.

Fertility preservation

If your child’s treatment might cause fertility problems, their medical team can advise you about fertility preservation. For example, freezing your child’s eggs or sperm before treatment starts so that they can be used in the future. If your child’s radiotherapy treatment might affect their fertility, the testes or ovaries may need to be temporarily moved out of the way of the radiotherapy beam.

Not every child will need or be suitable for fertility preservation. Your child’s consultant can refer them to the Childhood Cancer Fertility Project, if they are eligible.

Childhood Cancer Fertility Project 

The Childhood Cancer Fertility Project is a partnership between the Irish Cancer Society and the Merrion Fertility Clinic, Dublin, to offer free fertility preservation and other services to young people with a cancer diagnosis.

Read more about the background to and aims of The Childhood Cancer Fertility Project

Fertility preservation before treatment

Female - Oocyte (unfertilised egg) freezing

For some girls who have started their periods, it may be possible to collect and freeze their eggs before treatment starts. This process requires about 2 weeks of fertility drug treatment. There may not be time for this if cancer treatment has to start straight away.

Male - Sperm banking 

Sperm banking is where sperm is collected and frozen (cryopreserved) for later use. It is a simple procedure, but it is only possible with boys who have gone through puberty. Most boys have some sperm in their semen by about age 13.

Fertility services after treatment for young women

Young women aged 18-24 who have had treatment for cancer as a child can have their fertility checked. This is done by looking at the number and the quality of eggs a woman has (the ovarian reserve) The results of these tests will help doctors decide if fertility treatments may still be an option.

If you have an enquiry about this service, please contact the clinic at

Checking male fertility

Young men can do a simple test to check the amount and quality of the sperm in their semen. Your doctor can advise you about this.

For more information

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