Some cancer treatments can impact the ability to have children. For a woman, infertility means that she either can’t get pregnant, or she can’t maintain a pregnancy full-term.
Cancer treatments may affect fertility, but it depends on what kinds of treatment you get.
Fertility and Women with Cancer
There are ways to save or protect your fertility before and even during treatment. But after treatment, options are often more limited. So, if possible, it’s best to talk with your health care team about fertility before treatment.
Women with cancer must consider the following factors when trying to preserve fertility:
- Type of cancer treatment
- Whether the cancer has spread to the ovaries
- Time available to treat the cancer, and chances of success
- Cancer patients often have questions and concerns about how their treatment can affect fertility and what the available options are.
- Find the answers to common questions.
Talk to Your Health Care Team
- Before you start your cancer treatment, talk to your doctor or nurse about any concerns you have about your fertility. Here are some questions from the American Cancer Society that you can ask to begin the conversation:
- Will my fertility be affected by the treatment I receive?
- What are all of my options now if I would like to have children in the future?
- Could you give me the name of a fertility specialist who I can talk with to learn more?
- After treatment, how long should I use birth control?
- ACS has a list of additional questions you can ask your doctor.
Although it’s best to discuss fertility before your treatment begins, there are steps you can take to preserve fertility during and after cancer treatment, as well. Keep in mind that no treatment works 100% of the time.
Know Your Options
Learn about your fertility preservation options, which include:
- Egg (oocyte) freezing
- Embryo freezing, or embryo cryopreservation
- Fertility-sparing surgery
- Learn more ways to preserve your fertility
Getting Help with Fertility Concerns
Find additional resources and support from organizations that can help with your fertility concerns.
Organizations That Can Help with Fertility Concerns
ACS has a list of resources* that can help you address fertility concerns, including:
- American Academy of Adoption Attorneys
- American Society of Clinical Oncology
- American Society for Reproductive Medicine
- Livestrong Fertility
- Oncofertility Consortium
- RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association
*Inclusion on this list does not imply endorsement by the American Cancer Society.
For more detailed information on support options, visit Get Support.
Talk to Your Health Care Team
Your health care team needs to know how you’re doing. Be sure to tell them about any changes you notice.
Talk to Family and Friends
Your loved ones want to support you. They can help with activities like housework, running errands, and getting to appointments. Be as specific as possible about the kind of help you need.
Find Peer Support
Talk About Your Concerns
Peer groups offer a welcoming environment to share your feelings and experiences with people who are going through the same things. Use the American Cancer Society’s Resource Search to find a peer group in your area or call the American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345 for personalized assistance.
Visit the Cancer Survivors Network Online
The Cancer Survivors Network is an online community with more than 40 discussion boards where cancer survivors share their cancer-related experiences, support one another, and exchange practical tips.
NCI Cancer Information Service
Speak to a National Cancer Institute health information specialist by calling 1-800-4-Cancer.
The National Cancer Institute offers live, online assistance through its LiveHelp service.
ACS National Cancer Information Center
Get information and tips from a cancer information specialist at the American Cancer Society by calling 1-800-227-2345. Lines are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The American Cancer Society offers live, online assistance 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Select the Live Chat option from any page on cancer.org.