Fertility treatment for women

If you are producing eggs

If your ovaries are producing eggs, you may be able to get pregnant by having sex. But if tests show that you are unlikely to get pregnant naturally, fertility treatments such as IVF (in vitro fertilisation) or ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection) might increase your chances.

If you don’t produce eggs

If your ovaries have been removed or have stopped producing eggs, you won’t be able to get pregnant naturally. If you stored eggs, embryos or ovarian tissue before your cancer treatment, you may be able to use these. Sometimes people use eggs or embryos from a donor.

If you decide to use your frozen eggs or eggs from a donor, these are usually fertilised using ICSI. If suitable embryos develop, they may then be placed in your womb. If you decide to use your frozen embryos or embryos from a donor, these are carefully defrosted and placed in your womb in the same way.

If you stored ovarian tissue, this can be placed back in the body using keyhole (laparoscopic) surgery. If the tissue starts producing eggs, you may be able to get pregnant naturally or with fertility treatments such as IVF or ICSI.

If you can’t have sex

After cancer treatment, some women find having sex difficult. There are treatments that can help if you are having sexual problems, but it can depend on what is causing the problem. It’s always best to ask someone from your healthcare team for expert advice.

If your fertility has come back, IUI may help you get pregnant without having sex.

What if fertility treatment doesn’t work?

Unfortunately, there is always a risk that fertility treatment won’t work. This might happen to anyone having fertility treatment, not just people affected by cancer. Your chance of success may depend on your age, your blood test results and the type of cancer treatment you had. Your fertility doctor will explain this before you start treatment. But it is still upsetting if treatment doesn’t work.

Some people decide to try again, but this can be a difficult decision to make. Fertility treatment can be stressful. For women, it can be hard physically as well as emotionally. And if you are paying for treatment, it can be expensive.

Counsellors in fertility clinics can offer support and advice. There are also organisations that offer counselling, such as the British Infertility Counselling Association (BICA). Your healthcare team might also know about support groups in your area. If you are 16 or over, you can join our Online Community.