- Cancer Information
- Managing side effects
- Fertility and cancer
- Female fertility and cancer treatments
Female fertility and cancer treatments
This section provides an overview of how cancer treatments may affect female fertility. The most common treatments for cancer are chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery and hormone therapy. Other treatments include immunotherapy and targeted therapy.
Learn more about:
- Radiation therapy
- Hormone therapy
- Other treatments
- Fertility outcomes after treatment
Avoiding pregnancy during treatment
Some cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy or targeted therapy, can harm an unborn baby or cause birth defects.
Even if your periods stop during cancer treatment, you might still be fertile. If you are in a heterosexual relationship you will need to use some form of contraception to avoid pregnancy while having treatment.
Your treatment team and fertility specialists may also advise you to wait between six months and two years before starting fertility treatment or trying to conceive naturally. This will depend on the type of treatment you’ve had. For example, some chemotherapy drugs may have damaged any developing eggs.
You may also need to use barrier contraception, such as a condom, female condom or dental dam, to protect your partner from any chemotherapy drugs that may be present in your body fluids.
Dr Ying Li, Gynaecologist and Fertility Specialist, RPA Fertility Unit, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, NSW; Dr Antoinette Anazodo, Paediatric and Adolescent Oncologist, Sydney Children’s Hospital and Prince of Wales Hospital, NSW, and Lead Clinician for Youth Cancer NSW/ACT; Paul Baden, Consumer; Dawn Bedwell, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council Queensland; Maurice Edwards, Special Counsel, Watts McCray Lawyers, NSW; Helena Green, Clinical Sexologist and Counsellor, InSync for Life, WA; Dr Michelle Peate, Program Leader, Psychosocial Health and Wellbeing Research (emPoWeR) Unit, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Royal Women’s Hospital, The University of Melbourne, VIC; A/Prof Kate Stern, Gynaecologist and Reproductive Endocrinologist and Head, Fertility Preservation Service, Royal Women’s Hospital Melbourne, The University of Melbourne, VIC; Prof Jane Ussher, Chair, Women’s Health Psychology, Translational Health Resea ch Institute (THRI), School of Medicine, Western Sydney University, NSW; Renee Van Den Bosch, Consumer.
View the Cancer Council NSW editorial policy.
Click below to download a PDF booklet on this topic.
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