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. You may have worries and questions about fertility that didn’t seem important before cancer treatment. If and when you’re ready, you can talk to your cancer doctor again for more advice.
There is no evidence that cancer treatments harm children conceived after treatment. But doctors usually advise you to use contraception for a while after treatment to allow your body to recover.
If you’re thinking about getting pregnant, it’s a good idea to talk to your cancer doctor first. Depending on your age and the type of cancer and treatment you had, they may suggest trying sooner or waiting a bit longer. They will also give you advice about any health checks you need before trying to get pregnant.
If you’re taking hormonal therapies for breast cancer, it may be possible to stop treatment temporarily so you can have a baby. Your cancer doctor can give you information about the risks and benefits of doing this.
As well as affecting your fertility, cancer treatment can change how you feel about having sex or make it physically difficult to have sex. Even if your fertility has come back, this can make it hard to get pregnant. It’s not always easy to talk about, but your cancer doctor or specialist nurse can give you advice about this.
You can read more about coping with sexual problems.
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 you may find helpful.
If you get pregnant but the cancer treatment has increased the risk of miscarriage or premature birth, you’ll be looked after by a team of specialists during the pregnancy.
If you’ve been trying to get pregnant for six months or there’s a risk that your fertility won’t recover, you can have tests to check your fertility.
Fertility treatments can be useful if your fertility does not come back or it’s difficult to have sex.
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 partner, family or religious adviser. You could also talk in confidence with a trained counsellor or social worker.
Some women consider adoption or fostering. Some choose surrogacy, which is when another woman carries a baby for you. If you have had your womb removed or radiotherapy directly to the womb, you won’t be able to carry a pregnancy or have fertility treatment. Adoption, fostering and surrogacy may be other ways for you to have a child after cancer treatment.
You may decide that none of these options are right for you. Some people choose not to have children after cancer treatment. This can be a straightforward decision for one person and a complicated, upsetting decision for another. There’s no right or wrong way to feel. Everyone is different.
Talking to other people can be helpful while you’re thinking about your options. Whatever you decide, there’s support available.