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Fertility and cancer treatment

Cancer treatments can harm your fertility. The effects can be temporary or permanent depending on factors such as the type of cancer and treatment, whether you are male or female and your age at the time of treatment.

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If you are having cancer treatment we advise you to talk to your doctor or oncologist, or contact us directly to discuss your options before the treatment begins. If you have already had your treatment there may still be fertility options available to you.


How does cancer treatment affect female fertility?

Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy drugs can damage some of the eggs stored in your ovaries. Your age, the type of chemotherapy drugs given and the dosage will all impact on how extensive the damage may be. After chemotherapy, you may have a reduced number of fertile years left.

Radiotherapy: If you are having radiotherapy treatment around your pelvic area you can be at risk of having damaged ovaries and eggs, which will impact on your fertility. Radiotherapy of your brain can also affect your fertility if your pituitary gland, which controls fertility hormones, is damaged.

Surgery: If you are having surgery on your reproductive area as part of your treatment your fertility is likely to be affected. The type of surgery you have will affect which type of fertility treatment we may recommend, so we advise you speak with your medical team, or with us directly, before surgery is undertaken.

Hormonal therapy: Hormonal therapy can affect your ability to have a baby

Other treatments: The effects of other cancer treatments such as biological response modifiers or immune therapy are not yet known. It is advised that you speak with your doctor, nurse or other member of your healthcare team to discuss this

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Fertility treatments for women

The type of fertility treatment that is right for you will depend on your age and the type and amount of cancer treatment you have had.

Egg freezing: Freezing your eggs can help to ensure you have a chance to become a mother following cancer treatment and it is most commonly recommended for single women or same-sex couples, or those who are not ready to consider having a baby with their current partner. Read more about egg freezing.

Embryo freezing: Embryo freezing is a good option for women in couples or those who are happy to use donor sperm. Read more about embryo freezing

Egg and embryo freezing: It is possible to have both eggs and embryos frozen as part of your fertility treatment.

Egg donation: If you have already had cancer treatment and your eggs have been damaged, we run a successful egg donation programme. Another women will donate her healthy eggs to you and you will carry the baby. Read more about egg donation.

Surrogacy: If your uterus has been damaged so you cannot carry a baby, you could consider surrogacy treatment in order to have a baby. Read more about surrogacy

How does cancer treatment affect male fertility?

Chemotherapy: The higher the dose of chemotherapy drugs, the longer it takes for your sperm production to return to normal, and the more likely it is to stop entirely. The risks also vary depending on the type of drugs being used.

Radiotherapy: Radiation therapy on or around your testicles or pelvic area can impact on your ability to produce sperm. Radiotherapy on your brain can harm your pituitary gland which controls the hormones that cause you to produce sperm.

Surgery: surgery around your reproductive area can affect your ability to produce and release sperm. The type of surgery will dictate what the risk of decreased fertility is.

Hormonal therapy: hormonal therapy can affect your fertility.

Other treatments: The effect of other cancer treatments, such as biological response modifiers or immune therapy is not yet known. It is advised that you speak with your doctor, nurse or other member of your healthcare team to discuss this.

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Fertility treatments for men

Semen freezing: Freezing your semen is a fast, uncomplicated process which can help ensure you still have the opportunity to become a father after your cancer treatment is completed. Read more about semen freezing

Chromosomal analysis of sperm: If you have already had chemotherapy and want to try for a baby we recommend carrying out an advanced semen analysis that includes chromosomal testing. Chemotherapy destroys and damages cells, including those responsible for producing sperm, which leads to reduced fertility and/or miscarriages. This test will tell you whether your sperm has returned to normal. Read more about chomosomal testing of sperm

Donor sperm: If your sperm has been damaged and you are unable to become a father using your own sperm, we have a large donor sperm bank which is available exclusively for the use of London Fertility Centre patients. Read more about using donor sperm.