Some cancer treatments can cause temporary or permanent infertility (inability to conceive a child). Some people are able to get pregnant or get their partner pregnant after finishing cancer treatment. Other people take steps to preserve their fertility before treatment starts by storing eggs, sperm or embryos.
If you are thinking about trying to get pregnant after treatment, talk to your cancer specialist about the impact that your treatment might have on your health during pregnancy. Depending on the treatment you’ve had, they may advise you to wait between six months and two years before trying to conceive. Discuss the timing and suitable contraception with your specialist. If you do get pregnant, you may need careful monitoring during the pregnancy. It can be helpful to ask your obstetrician to talk with your cancer specialist.
If you are told your infertility is permanent, you may feel a great sense of loss and grief, even if your family is complete. You may feel angry, sad or anxious that the cancer and its treatment caused these changes to your body or your plans for the future. Talking to a psychologist or fertility counsellor about how you are feeling might help.
For more on this, see Fertility and cancer.
If you have trouble conceiving after cancer treatment or would like to learn about ways to improve your chances of getting pregnant, ask your doctor for a referral to a fertility specialist.
Podcast: Sex and Cancer
Prof Michael Jefford, Medical Oncologist and Director, Australian Cancer Survivorship Centre, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Lucy Bailey, Nurse Counsellor, Cancer Council Queensland; Philip Bullas, Consumer; Dr Kate Gunn, Clinical Psychologist and Senior Research Fellow, Department of Rural Health, University of South Australia, SA; Rosemerry Hodgkin, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council WA; Prof David Joske, Clinical Haematologist, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital and Clinical Professor of Medicine, The University of Western Australia, WA; Kim Kerin-Ayres, Clinical Nurse Consultant, Cancer Survivorship, Concord Hospital, NSW; Sally Littlewood, Physiotherapist, Seymour Health, VIC; Georgina Lohse, Social Worker, GV Health,VIC; Melanie Moore, Exercise Physiologist and Clinical Supervisor, University of Canberra Cancer Wellness Clinic, ACT; June Savva, Senior Clinician Dietitian, Nutrition and Dietetics, Monash Cancer Centre, Monash Health, VIC; Dr Elysia Thornton-Benko, Specialist General Practitioner and Research Fellow, University of New South Wales, NSW; Prof Janette Vardy, Medical Oncologist, Concord Cancer Centre and Professor of Cancer Medicine, The University of Sydney, NSW; Lyndell Wills, Consumer.
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