Talking about your fertility before cancer treatment starts

It’s important to talk to your cancer doctor or specialist nurse about fertility before you start cancer treatment. Having children is an important part of many people’s lives or their future plans. But it may be hard to think about this when you’re already coping with cancer.

Some treatments are unlikely to affect your fertility at all. Others may cause fertility problems during treatment or for a short time afterwards. Some treatments cause long-term or permanent damage to fertility.

Your doctor will explain the possible risks to you. Some women are referred to a fertility expert before starting cancer treatment. This is to discuss ways of increasing their chances of getting pregnant in the future (fertility preservation). But this isn’t always possible. For example, there may not be enough time if cancer treatment has to start immediately.

Try to think about the questions you want to ask so you can get all the information you need. If you have a partner, it might be a good idea to include them too.

Questions for your medical team

Before cancer treatment

  • How will my fertility be affected?
  • Are there ways to protect my fertility during cancer treatment?
  • Can I store embryos, eggs or ovarian tissue?
  • What type of contraception should I use during cancer treatment?

After cancer treatment

  • What type of contraception should I use and for how long after cancer treatment?
  • When should I have tests to check my fertility?
  • My partner and I want to try to get pregnant naturally. When can we start trying?
  • What are my options for having children?
  • What fertility treatments will help in my situation?

They explained that it could reduce fertility. But at the time I was 21 and it was the last thing on my mind. But it has been getting to me recently actually, as I’ve been getting older.


Back to Fertility in women

What is fertility?

Fertility in women means being able to get pregnant and give birth to a baby. Cancer and cancer treatment can affect this.

Preserving your fertility

You may be able to freeze eggs, embryos or ovarian tissue before you start your cancer treatment.

Getting support

You may find it helpful to talk to someone about any fertility worries.