Some breast cancer treatments can affect your ability to have children (fertility). For many younger women, this can be a major concern. Having a family can be an important part of moving on with life after cancer. Some women, particularly if they’re younger, have no difficulties getting pregnant naturally after treatment.
Doctors usually advise that you wait at least two years after treatment before getting pregnant. This is the time when the cancer is most likely to come back, but it also gives you time to recover from treatment.
Pregnancy raises your natural hormone levels so it’s important to talk to your specialist first if you are planning to get pregnant. However, recent research has shown that pregnancy after breast cancer does not increase the risk of your breast cancer coming back, even if the original cancer had hormone receptors (oestrogen positive). Your specialist can advise you on the risk of the cancer coming back and how safe pregnancy is in your situation.
You should avoid getting pregnant while taking tamoxifen as this increases the chances of a multiple pregnancy, such as twins or triplets.
Infertility may be temporary or permanent, depending on the treatment you’ve had and your age. The older you are, and the closer you are to your natural menopause, the higher the risk of infertility.
Check with your breast care nurse or cancer specialist if you’re not sure if you need to continue using contraceptives to prevent pregnancy. Women who have had breast cancer are advised not to take the contraceptive pill or use coils (IUDs) containing hormones as these could encourage breast cancer cells to grow. Your cancer specialist or specialist nurse will give you more advice about this.