More questions about cancer and fertility

Here are some more questions about cancer and fertility.

  • Will my fertility be affected? Most young people won’t have long-term fertility problems. But it’s important to get detailed information from your healthcare team.
  • Are there ways to preserve my fertility? Some people can have this done before treatment starts.
  • My periods have started again. Does that mean I’m fertile? This doesn’t always mean you will be able to get pregnant.
  • What if my fertility has been affected? You may decide to have fertility tests and treatment. Ask your healthcare team for more advice.
  • If I have an early menopause, what can help with the effects? There is treatment and support to help with any symptoms and emotional effects. You can also have treatment to prevent long-term effects.
  • If I am infertile, will my body change? You may notice changes to your hair, skin, weight, emotions or sex life. Ask your healthcare team for advice.
  • Who can I talk to about using a donor or surrogate? A fertility specialist, counsellor, social worker may be able to help. You may also want to talk to a partner, family member or friend.

Will my fertility be affected?

Most teenagers and young adults who have cancer won’t have long-term fertility problems. It depends on your age and the cancer type and treatment you have. Different cancers and treatment can affect fertility, not just cancer or treatment related to the reproductive system.

It is important to get the right information from your cancer doctor or nurse. They will be able to explain:

  • how your fertility might be affected
  • whether it may recover
  • when it is likely to recover.


Are there ways to preserve my fertility?

If there is a risk that cancer treatment will affect your fertility, you may be able to have fertility preservation before treatment starts.

Your cancer doctor will plan your cancer treatment to protect your fertility as much as possible. For example, it is sometimes possible to protect the testicles or ovaries from radiotherapy damage by moving or shielding them.


My periods have started again. Does that mean I’m fertile?

Having your period regularly doesn’t always mean you will be able to get pregnant. The best way to find out more about your fertility after cancer treatment is to have fertility tests.


What happens if the cancer or treatment has affected my fertility?

If you find out that cancer or treatment has affected your fertility, you may start thinking about fertility testing and treatment. You may have to decide:

Talking to professionals who are trained to help with these decisions could be useful. You can talk to staff at the hospital where you had your treatment, or you could contact an organisation that offers support.


If I have an early menopause, are there any treatments I can have to help with the effects?

Yes. You can have treatment and support to cope with any symptoms and the emotional effects of an early menopause. You can also have treatment to protect you from the long-term effects of the menopause, such as thinning of the bones (osteoporosis) and heart disease.

You may be offered:

  • support from your GP or a specialist who treats women with early menopause
  • treatment and advice to help you cope with symptoms
  • hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or a type of hormonal contraceptive to prevent long-term effects.

Your doctor will explain the possible risks and benefits of any treatment to you. Some women can’t take HRT safely because of the type of cancer they have. Your doctor will tell you whether this treatment is suitable for you.


If I am infertile, will my body change?

If your body can’t produce certain hormones any more, you may notice some changes. This can happen to men and women. These might include changes to your:

  • hair
  • skin
  • weight
  • emotions
  • sex life.

There are treatments and support available to help with these changes. Ask your cancer doctor or GP for advice.

Hormonal changes can also increase your risk of some health problems later in life. To reduce this risk, you can take replacement hormones. For men, this is testosterone replacement therapy (TRT). For women, it is hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or a type of hormonal contraceptive. Your doctor can give you more information.


I’m worried about using a donor or surrogate. Who can I talk to?

For some people, fertility treatment can raise difficult issues. You may have concerns about using an egg donor, sperm donor or a surrogate. You might worry how your child will feel about it in the future. Or you may have legal questions about who will be the child’s parent.

Take your time to think, talk and find out more. You can talk to a fertility specialist, and some organisations offer information about these questions. You may also want to talk it through with your partner, family or a friend. You could also talk in confidence with a trained counsellor or social worker.

Some religions don’t agree with any type of fertility treatment. If this is an issue for you, you may want to discuss it with your religious or spiritual adviser.