Talking about your fertility before cancer treatment starts

It’s important to talk to your cancer doctor or specialist nurse about fertility before you start cancer treatment. Some cancer treatments are unlikely to affect your fertility at all. Others may cause fertility problems during treatment or for a short time afterwards. Some treatments cause long-term or permanent damage to fertility.

Having children is an important part of many people’s lives or their future plans. It may seem especially hard to think about this when you’re already coping with cancer. Try to think about the questions you want to ask so you can get all the information you need. If you have a partner, it might be a good idea to include them too.

Your doctor will talk to you about the possible risks to your fertility. If treatment might make you infertile, your doctor should talk to you about having your sperm stored before treatment starts. This is sometimes called sperm banking. You and a partner may be able to use the stored sperm to have a child in the future, if cancer treatment makes you infertile.

Your cancer doctor can refer you to a fertility clinic straight away. This means that having your sperm stored should not delay your cancer treatment. But in some situations, treatment has to start quickly. In this case there may not be time for sperm banking.

Questions for your medical team

Before cancer treatment

  • How will my fertility be affected?
  • Are there ways to protect my fertility during cancer treatment?
  • Can I store sperm or testicular tissue?
  • What type of contraception should I use during cancer treatment?

After cancer treatment

  • What type of contraception should I use and for how long after cancer treatment?
  • When should I have tests to check my fertility?
  • My partner and I want to try to get pregnant naturally. When can we start trying?
  • What are my options for having children?
  • What fertility treatments will help in my situation?

Back to Fertility in men

Getting support

You might find it helpful to talk to family, friends or healthcare professionals about fertility.