Possible effects on fertility in women

Unfortunately, some chemotherapy drugs can cause infertility. Infertility is the inability to become pregnant or to father a child. This may be temporary or permanent, depending on the treatment that you have.

It’s important to discuss your infertility risk with your cancer doctor before you start chemotherapy. If you have a partner, it’s a good idea to include them at this discussion.

Although chemotherapy can affect fertility, it’s still possible for a woman to get pregnant during chemotherapy. It’s important to avoid pregnancy when you’re having chemotherapy as the drugs could harm a developing baby.


Some, but not all, chemotherapy drugs may temporarily or permanently stop your ovaries producing eggs.

Chemotherapy may cause your periods to become irregular or stop for a while (temporary infertility). But after treatment stops the ovaries can start producing eggs again and your periods will return to normal. It may take a few months or up to two years for them to come back again. The younger you are, the more likely you are to have periods again and still be fertile after chemotherapy.

If your periods don’t come back you won’t be able to become pregnant and will have your menopause.

It’s important to know if your fertility is likely to be affected before chemotherapy starts. You can then decide if you want to be referred to a fertility specialist. They can discuss possible options to help preserve your fertility, such as storing embryos (fertilised eggs) or eggs, with you.

Feelings about infertility

If you had been planning to have children, infertility can be very hard to come to terms with.

You may find it helpful to talk about your feelings with a trained counsellor or therapist who specialises in fertility problems. Your doctor or specialist nurse may be able to arrange. Our cancer support specialists on freephone 0808 808 00 00 can also provide support.

Back to Side effects of chemotherapy

Possible side effects

There are many possible side effects to chemotherapy treatment, but they can be reduced. There are practical ways to manage them.