If you think your cancer or its treatment has affected your fertility, you may be able to have fertility tests. These can find out whether you’re still able to have children.
It can be hard to decide how long to wait before having a fertility test. It’s important to choose the right time for you, although sometimes there may be medical factors to consider.
Deciding whether to have a fertility test
This can be a difficult decision to make, as the results may affect other aspects of your life, such as your relationships with your boyfriend or girlfriend, family and friends. Everyone is different, and the decision about whether to have a fertility test is completely yours.
You may find it helpful to think about these things:
- A fertility test does not always clearly show whether or not you can have children.
- You need to feel ready to cope with the results, whatever they are. It’s important to know that there are people who can support you. You could talk to your boyfriend or girlfriend, family or friends about it. There are also support organisations that can give emotional support.
- You may find that getting some information about the different ways of becoming a parent is enough for now. These include medical treatments and adoption. You may then want to delay having your fertility tested until later.
- You may find the uncertainty of not knowing whether you can have children more stressful than finding out. Whether or not you are in a relationship or ready to start a family, you might prefer to find out whether you can have children. This can help you feel more in control and able to plan your future.
- Other people in your life, such as your partner or parents, may feel they need to know whether your fertility has been affected. Although this may seem like a good reason for finding out, the decision to have the test is yours.
- If you have a boyfriend or girlfriend, or there are other people who may be affected by the results, it may help to talk to them before the test. Together, you can clarify what you are hoping for from the future, how the test results might affect this and how you would cope depending on the results.
Deciding when to get a fertility test
You may prefer not to find out about your fertility until you reach a certain point in your life. This may be when you:
- feel emotionally strong enough to deal with the results
- reach a certain age
- have met the person you see as your long-term partner
- want to start a family.
You may already be going through other major life events, such as taking exams, leaving school or college, leaving home or starting a new job. These can be stressful and challenging times. In this case, you may not want to add the emotional effects of having a fertility test.
Cancer and its treatment will often affect your fertility, even if this is only temporary. It’s important not to have any fertility tests too soon after you’ve finished treatment, as they might give an artificially low assessment of your future fertility. Specialists usually suggest that you wait at least six months after treatment ends. This will allow your body to recover.
Who can help?
Choosing to have fertility testing is a big decision. You might find it helpful to share your thoughts and feelings with other people.
These may include:
- your partner, if you have one
- family members
- trusted friends
- professionals, such as doctors, nurses, social workers or counsellors.