How treatment for ALL may affect your fertility
Some of the drugs used to treat ALL can cause temporary or permanent infertility.
Infertility is the inability to become pregnant or father a child. Your doctor will talk to you about this in more detail before you start your treatment. If you have a partner, you may want them to be with you so you can discuss any fears or worries together.
Some drugs have less effect on your fertility than others, and couples have had normal, healthy babies after one partner has been treated for leukaemia. Unfortunately, people who have had high-dose treatment and a stem cell transplant are likely to be permanently infertile.
It may be possible for men to store sperm before starting treatment, so it can be used later if they want to have a family. Rarely, a woman’s eggs or fertilised eggs (embryos) can be stored before chemotherapy, so that she may have the chance to have a child after treatment.
However, as treatment usually has to start as soon as possible, there’s not always enough time to store sperm or embryos.
Your doctor knows the details of the treatment you’re having and is the best person to answer your questions. You can write down any questions you have so you are clear about your treatment and the effect it’s likely to have on you before it starts.
Coping with infertility
It can be very difficult to come to terms with the fact that you can no longer have children.
Talking about your feelings with your partner, family or a close friend can help to clarify your thoughts and give the people close to you the opportunity to understand how you are feeling.
If it would be easier to talk to someone outside the circle of your immediate family and friends, you may find it helpful to talk to your doctor, nurse, social worker or a trained counsellor.
Our cancer support specialists can discuss these issues with you and can give information on how to contact a counsellor in your area.
We have more information about sexuality and cancer and the effects cancer and its treatment can have on sexuality and fertility.
We also have a video of Robert explaining his experience of fertility treatment.