It can take time to move forward with life after cancer treatment. The decision to try for a baby is a big one for anyone to make. If you’ve had cancer, this brings its own extra challenges. If you are considering this, you can talk to your cancer doctor or nurse again. You may have worries and questions about fertility that didn’t seem important before cancer treatment.
If there is a chance that your fertility will recover after cancer treatment, you may decide to wait and try to have a baby naturally. Your cancer doctor can give more information about when your fertility might come back and what to expect. Depending on the cancer treatment, they may advise you to wait for some time before trying to have a baby. This is to make sure you are producing healthy sperm again.
Often it’s difficult to know exactly how or when your fertility will recover. Fertility testing can check the quality and amount of sperm you’re producing.
If your fertility doesn’t come back after cancer treatment, you may be able to use your own frozen sperm to help you have a baby. If you didn’t store sperm before cancer treatment, you may decide to use donor sperm.
Some men still produce sperm but the cancer treatment has caused problems with erections or ejaculation. It may still be possible to collect sperm. This can then be used with fertility treatments to help you have a baby.
Surgery or radiotherapy to the pituitary gland can stop sperm being produced. In this case, you can have hormone injections (gonadotrophin replacement injections) to start sperm production again.
Some people worry about passing cancer or cancer genes onto their children. Cancer can’t be passed from a parent to child. A small number of people have an inherited cancer gene that makes their risk of getting cancer higher. But this is rare and most cancers are not caused by inherited cancer genes. Talk to your doctor if you’re worried about the risk of cancer running in your family.
We have more information about cancer genes and planning a family that may be useful.
You may decide not to try for a baby at all. Or some people choose to adopt or foster a child. Whatever you decide, support is available. Talking to other people can also be helpful while you’re thinking through your options. There’s no right or wrong way to feel. Everyone is different.