Fertility testing for women
If you want to have your fertility checked after treatment, you can ask your GP or cancer doctor who can arrange some tests.
If you’re having periods Back to top
To check your fertility, your doctor will usually look at your menstrual cycle. They will do some blood tests at particular times in your cycle. The blood tests look at your sex hormone levels. You may also have an ultrasound scan of your ovaries.
If you’re having regular periods, and aren’t taking the contraceptive pill or having hormone replacement therapy (HRT), this almost certainly means that you’re fertile. However, this doesn’t guarantee that you will get pregnant.
If you’re taking the pill or having HRT, these can affect your sex hormone levels and make it difficult to assess your fertility. You will be asked to stop taking the pill or HRT for a short time, to help your doctors make the assessment. If you’re having sex, it’s important to use another reliable form of contraception while you’re not taking the pill.
Your GP or cancer doctor can do these tests, but they may ask a fertility specialist to discuss the results with you. A more specialised test (an AMH blood test) can give more information about the number of eggs you have in your ovaries. These tests are generally only done by fertility specialists.
If you’re not having periods Back to top
If you finished your cancer treatment at least six months ago and haven’t had any periods, a blood test can show whether your ovaries are still releasing eggs.
The test can show whether you’ve become menopausal, which means you’ve stopped releasing eggs or are producing fewer eggs.
You can have the tests done for free on the NHS. If you decide to have testing done privately, you will have to pay. If you’re menopausal, your ovaries may still be releasing an egg every now and again. So your doctor will tell you to keep using contraception if you’re having sex and don’t want to get pregnant. Your doctor may also recommend that you start taking hormones, either as the contraceptive pill or HRT.
It’s not possible to accurately predict whether a cancer treatment will definitely cause the menopause. Your cancer doctor should be able to tell you whether there’s a chance of you having an early menopause.
No. The tests don’t cause any pain, although blood tests can be uncomfortable.
How accurate are the tests? Back to top
The tests are quite accurate at showing whether you’re fertile or not.
If the tests show normal egg production
If the tests show that your ovaries are producing eggs regularly, or only sometimes, you need to use contraception if you don’t want to get pregnant.
You may find it useful to have the test repeated every year or every few years, to make sure that the situation hasn’t changed.
If you’re producing eggs and haven’t become pregnant after two years of trying, you can have a test at a fertility clinic.
If the tests show low hormone levels
If your ovaries aren’t producing eggs, or if your hormone levels are very low, you may be advised to have the tests repeated after some time. The tests can’t predict what may happen in the future. If you have changes in your menstrual cycle or any other related symptoms, you might want to ask for another test.