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Fertility means being able to get pregnant and have a baby. Unfortunately, some cancer treatments| can affect a your fertility, but your doctors will always think about this when planning your treatment. Your doctors will think very carefully about this when planning your treatment.
Doctors talked to me about the possible effects of chemo on fetility, and they told me to keep an eye on my menstrual cycle because sometimes your period can become irregular or stop altogether when you're on chemo. My periods have been okay though - they stayed regular. Natalie, 18
Doctors talked to me about the possible effects of chemo on fetility, and they told me to keep an eye on my menstrual cycle because sometimes your period can become irregular or stop altogether when you're on chemo. My periods have been okay though - they stayed regular.
If only one ovary has been removed then the remaining one will carry on making eggs. But if you’ve had both of your ovaries removed, you won’t be able to get pregnant or have a baby.
This can be very upsetting to cope with on top of having to cope with having cancer. Many hospitals have doctors or counsellors specially trained to give help and support. Our section on relationships, sex and fertility goes into all this in more detail.
You might also find it helpful to talk to other young people with cancer. You could see if your hospital has a support group or join our online community group for people who are 16-24 and living with cancer|.
Having chemo| could make your periods become irregular or stop. After chemo your periods should get back to normal, but it could take a few months. Remember this is a side effect of your treatment and it doesn’t mean you’re going to be infertile.
Sometimes doctors recommend that you take tablets during chemo that stop your periods, so that you don’t have any blood loss.
Having both ovaries removed by an operation will cause the menopause to start straight away.
The menopause is when the ovaries stop producing hormones and a woman’s periods stop. It means you can no longer have children. Usually it happens when women are around 50.
Having radiotherapy to the ovaries will also cause the menopause, but it’ll happen more gradually, over a few months or so.
Sometimes having chemo can also cause the menopause to start earlier than usual. This can be many years after treatment has finished, even after your periods have come back. This is because chemotherapy can reduce the number of eggs you have.
Going into the menopause as a result of your treatment can be very upsetting. Your doctors will explain more about what it means and what can be done to help. You’ll be given hormones to replace the ones your ovaries are no longer producing - this is called hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
An early menopause is a really difficult thing to cope with at a young age and you’ll need lots of support to help you. There's more about this in the relationships, sex and fertility| section.
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If you're looking for information about ovarian cancer in women of all ages please see our general ovarian cancer| information.
Content last reviewed: 1 June 2012
Next planned review: 2014
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.
Nicola was diagnosed with cervical cancer and the treatment she had affected her fertility. You can watch her story|.
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© Macmillan Cancer Support 2013
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