Life after treatment

After finishing treatment, you will have regular follow-up appointments at the hospital. This is to check whether the cancer has come back. 

If you have sex during cancer treatment, it is important to protect yourself and your partner. It is also important to prevent pregnancy. 

If doctors only need to remove one ovary, the other one will keep releasing eggs. But removing both your ovaries or your womb means you cannot get pregnant or have a baby naturally (infertility).

When a woman goes through the menopause (usually aged 50+), her periods stop. This means she can no longer have children. An operation to remove both ovaries will start the menopause straight away. 

Having radiotherapy to the ovaries will also gradually cause infertility. Chemotherapy can make your periods become irregular or stop. But this is a side effect and does not mean you are infertile. Chemotherapy can also cause the menopause to start earlier than usual. If this happens, you may have hormone replacement therapy (HRT).

You may find it difficult to talk about how the cancer or treatment has affected you. Support is still available after treatment. It can help to talk to your doctor or specialist nurse.

Follow-up

Once you have finished your treatment, you will have regular follow-up appointments at the hospital. You will have blood tests and sometimes other scans or x-rays. This is to see if the cancer has come back. It is important to go to these appointments. You could make a note of them in your phone or diary.


How will I feel?

You might find it embarrassing to talk about your body and how the cancer or treatment has affected you. It can feel awkward talking to doctors or family about this. Try not to let this stop you talking about things. It can be helpful to let someone know how you are feeling.

After treatment support is still available. Your hospital team includes people you can talk to about how you are feeling. Ask your doctor or specialist nurse for advice if you need more support. They understand what you are going through and are there to help.


Sex and fertility

You might worry about sex and relationships as soon as you find out you have cancer. Or you may only notice changes to your sex life as you have treatment, or after finishing. We have information about possible physical and emotional effects that cancer can have on your sex life and relationships

If you have sex during cancer treatment, it is important to protect yourself and your partner. It is also important to prevent a pregnancy. If you have any questions about this, ask your doctor or nurse for advice. We say more about this in our information about sex and relationships.

Some cancer treatments can affect your fertility. For women, fertility means being able to get pregnant and have a baby. 

Your doctors will always think carefully about this when planning your treatment.

If doctors only need to remove one ovary, the other one will keep releasing eggs. 

If they need to remove both your ovaries or your womb, you cannot get pregnant or have a baby naturally. This can be very upsetting, especially as you are already dealing with having cancer. Many hospitals have doctors or counsellors to help and support you. Our section on fertility gives you more information about preserving fertility and treatments. 

It might also be helpful to talk to other young people who are going through something similar. You could see if your hospital has a support group. Or you could join our Online community group for people aged 16-24 living with cancer. It helps to share what you’re going through and hear how people are coping.


Periods

Having chemotherapy can make your periods become irregular or stop. After chemotherapy, your periods should get back to normal. But this could take a few months. Remember, this is a side effect of your treatment. This does not mean you are going to be infertile (can’t have children).

Sometimes, doctors recommend you take tablets during chemo to stop your periods. This is so you do not have any blood loss.

Sometimes your period can become irregular or stop altogether when you're on chemo. My periods have been okay though - they stayed regular.

Natalie, 18


Early menopause

The menopause happens when the ovaries stop producing hormones. This means a woman’s periods stop and she can no longer have children. It usually happens when women are about 50. Sometimes, cancer treatments make this happen earlier.

An operation to remove both ovaries will cause the menopause to start straight away. This will happen whatever age you are.

Radiotherapy to the ovaries will also cause infertility. But this will happen more gradually, over a few months.

Chemotherapy can also cause the menopause to start earlier than usual. This can be many years after your treatment has finished. It can even happen after your periods have come back. This is because chemotherapy can reduce the number of eggs you have.

Going into the menopause because of your treatment can be upsetting. Your doctors will explain more about what it means and what they can do to help. They may give you hormones to replace the ones your ovaries are no longer producing. This is called hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Your doctor can tell you more about this.

An early menopause can be a difficult thing to cope with at a young age. But there is a lot of support available. We have more information about this in the sex and relationships section.

Back to Ovarian cancer

The ovaries

To understand ovarian cancer, it helps to know a bit about the ovaries.

Having tests

Your GP may arrange for you to have tests to see whether you have ovarian cancer.