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Your cancer support specialist should discuss any potential effects on fertility with you before you begin your treatment. You might find it helpful to read our information about the possible side effects of pelvic radiotherapy in men| and women|.
Most radiotherapy treatment has no effect on your ability to have children unless the ovaries are included in the treatment area.
Many healthy babies have been born to women who have had radiotherapy. The risk of having a baby with health problems is not increased if you have had treatment in the past. Many cancer specialists recommend that women wait for about two years after having radiotherapy before trying to get pregnant. This is to give the body a chance to get over the effects of the cancer and its treatment.
If radiotherapy treatment is given for cancer of the cervix|, womb| or ovary| and includes the ovaries, temporary or permanent infertility is likely. This can be very difficult to come to terms with.
In men, sperm production can be reduced if the testicles are in the area being treated, and this can lead to temporary or permanent infertility. Fortunately, it’s usually possible to avoid giving radiotherapy to the testicles when treating cancers that are common in younger men.
Radiotherapy for prostate| or bladder| cancer is likely to cause permanently low sperm counts, which can reduce your fertility.
Before you have radiotherapy, your clinical oncologist should discuss the risk of infertility with you. They’ll normally ask you to sign a form consenting to treatment. Understandably, this can be a traumatic time, particularly for young people who were planning to have children.
If you have a partner, they will be encouraged to join this meeting, giving both of you a chance to discuss any concerns you have.
We have information about sperm banking and egg storage in our section about cancer treatment and fertility|.
We also have information about sex and fertility for young people on our Teen Info on Cancer| website.
Content last reviewed: 1 July 2011
Next planned review: 2013
For answers, support or just a chat, call the Macmillan Support Line free (Monday to Friday, 9am-8pm)
If you have any questions about cancer, need support or just want someone to talk to, ask Macmillan.
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© Macmillan Cancer Support 2013
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