Potential effects on fertility

Some of the drugs used to treat acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) can cause temporary or permanent infertility. Infertility is the inability to become pregnant or father a child. Your doctor will talk to you about this in more detail before you start your treatment. If you have a partner, you may want them to be with you so you can discuss any fears or worries together.

Some drugs have less effect on your fertility than others, and couples have had healthy babies after one partner has been treated for leukaemia. Unfortunately, people who have had donor stem cell transplant are likely to be permanently infertile.

It may be possible for men to store sperm before starting treatment, so it can be used later if they want to have a family. Rarely, a woman’s eggs or fertilized eggs (embryos) can be stored before chemotherapy, so that she may have the chance to have a child after treatment.

However, as treatment for leukaemia has to start as soon as possible, there is sometimes not enough time to store sperm. Storing eggs or embryos is more complicated, so there’s not usually enough time to store either of these.

We have information about sperm banking and fertility treatments.

Your doctor knows the details of the treatment you’re having and is the best person to answer your questions. You can write down any questions you have so you are clear about your treatment and the effect it’s likely to have on you before it starts.

Coping with infertility

It can be very difficult to come to terms with the fact that you can no longer have children.

Talking about your feelings with your partner, family or a close friend can help to clarify your thoughts. If it would be easier to talk to someone outside those close to you, you may find it helpful to talk to your doctor, nurse, social worker or a trained counsellor. 

Our cancer support specialists on 0808 808 00 00 can give you information on how to contact a counsellor in your area.

Back to Side effects of chemotherapy

Possible side effects

There are many possible side effects to chemotherapy treatment, but they can be reduced. There are practical ways to manage them.

Chemo brain

Chemo brain describes changes in memory, concentration and the ability to think clearly. These changes can sometimes happen during or after cancer treatment.