Questions about cancer and fertility

Will my fertility be affected?

This can depend on your age, the cancer type, and the treatment you have. Different cancers and treatment can affect fertility – not just cancers or treatments related to the reproductive system. It is important to get the right information from your cancer doctor or nurse. They can explain:

  • how your fertility might be affected
  • whether it may recover
  • when it is likely to recover.

Are there ways to preserve my fertility?

If there is a risk that cancer treatment will affect your fertility, you may be able to have fertility preservation before treatment starts.

Your cancer doctor will plan your cancer treatment to protect your fertility as much as possible. For example, it is sometimes possible to protect the testicles or ovaries from radiotherapy damage by moving or shielding them.

My periods have started again. Am I fertile?

Having regular periods does not always mean you can get pregnant. The best way to find out more about your fertility after cancer treatment is to have fertility tests.

What happens if the cancer or treatment has affected my fertility?

If you find out cancer or its treatment has affected your fertility, you may start thinking about  fertility testing and treatment.

You may have to decide:

  • whether to have fertility tests
  • whether to have fertility treatment
  • which type of fertility treatment to have
  • whether or not to stop fertility treatment.

It may be useful to talk to a professional who is trained to help with these decisions. You can talk to staff at the hospital where you had your treatment. Or you could contact

If I have an early menopause, are there any treatments I can have to help with the effects?

You can have treatment and support to cope with any symptoms and the emotional effects of an early menopause. You can also have treatment to protect you from the long-term effects of the menopause. This can include thinning of the bones (osteoporosis) and heart disease.

You may be offered:

  • support from your GP or a specialist who treats women who have had an early menopause
  • treatment and advice to help you cope with symptoms
  • hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or a type of hormonal contraceptive to prevent long-term effects.

Your doctor will explain the possible risks and benefits of any treatment to you. Some women cannot take HRT safely because of the type of cancer they have. Your doctor will tell you if this
treatment is suitable for you.

If I am infertile, will my body change?

If your body stops producing certain hormones, you may notice some changes. These might include changes to your:

  • hair
  • skin
  • weight
  • emotions
  • sex life.

There are treatments and support available to help with these changes. Ask your cancer doctor, specialist nurse or GP for advice.

Hormonal changes can also increase your risk of some health problems later in life. To reduce this risk, you can take replacement hormones:

  • For men, this is testosterone replacement therapy (TRT).
  • For women, this is hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or a type of hormonal contraceptive.

Your doctor can give you more information.

I am worried about using a donor or surrogate. Who can I talk to?

For some people, fertility treatment can raise difficult issues. You may have concerns about using an egg donor, sperm donor or surrogate. You might worry how your child will feel about it in the future. Or you may have legal questions about who will be the child’s parent.

Take your time to think, talk and find out more. You can talk to a fertility specialist, and some organisations offer more information about these questions. You may also want to talk to a partner, family member, friend or religious advisor.

Based on original content by Macmillan Cancer Support