Can cancer treatment affect fertility?
Cancer treatments may have a major impact on fertility. Treatments can damage reproductive organs and may have other effects on the body that reduce or eliminate the chance of conceiving. Prior to beginning cancer treatments, you should consult with our medical team.
Causes of infertility from cancer treatment
Surgery, radiation and chemotherapy affect the reproductive system. Dosage, type of chemotherapy and length of treatments each affect fertility to a various degrees.
- Surgery for uterine, ovarian, and cervical cancers that remove all or part of those organs may eliminate the ability to become pregnant. In men, removal of one or both testicles can result in infertility.
- Radiation directed at a woman’s pelvis or abdomen may damage her reproductive organs or eggs.
- In men, radiation to or near the testicles can affect fertility and/or cause genetic damage to his sperm.
- Radiation may also interfere with hormone-producing glands in the brain essential to fertility in both men and women.
- Chemotherapy may damage or destroy a woman’s eggs or a man’s sperm.
- Newer cancer medications that can target certain cancer proteins may have variable effects on fertility. Be sure to talk about all of these issues with your physician.
Fertility preservation prior to cancer treatment
Women or men who are diagnosed with cancer and would still like to have children after treatment should strongly consider taking steps to preserve their fertility prior to cancer treatments.
If cancer treatments are deemed to pose risk to reproductive organs, women and men have options that include fertility preservation by egg freezing, sperm or embryo freezing or the use of egg/sperm donors and surrogates.