When you're diagnosed with cancer, having kids might be the last thing on your mind - or the idea of having the option taken off the table might be completely devastating. While the impact of cancer and its treatments on your fertility can vary, there are some practical information and resources that can help you figure it all out.

The effect cancer treatment can have on your fertility varies widely depending on your age, the type, stage and site of your cancer and the decisions you make during treatment.

It's often difficult to know how your fertility has been affected immediately after treatment. Research is constantly happening in this field, and new techniques are being developed all the time.

How does cancer impact your fertility?

This is tricky to answer in a straightforward way. So many factors are at play, including the treatment you have, which parts of your body are affected by the cancer, your age and whether you have to have ongoing treatment.

If you have ovaries, these can be impacted by certain types of chemo, radiotherapy and surgery and hormone treatment can damage your eggs, leading to early menopause. If you need to have treatment to your womb, this can also impact your fertility. Certain types of chemotherapy and radiotherapy can reduce or stop sperm production. Changes to your vagina and your ability to have an erection can also be impacted by treatment. All of this can be temporary, or in some cases it can be permanent.

What are my options?

In most cases, there are options to help you preserve your fertility, known as fertility preservation. You should be offered the opportunity to freeze your eggs or sperm if it's likely that your fertility will be impacted by your treatment. 

I can't decide what to have for lunch, let alone what to do about my fertility...

Preach. It's a lot, especially if it's something you've never thought about before. You might not even feel ready to make this decision, especially in amongst everything else going on around your cancer diagnosis. There's a lot to take into account and this often needs to happen pretty quickly before you start treatment. Prioritise talking to people you love and trust about your feelings and make sure you do what feels right for you.

I've already started or finished treatment. Is it too late?

Every situation is different and whether you're able to have children will depend on loads of different factors. If your fertility was never discussed, chat to your consultant, your GP or someone on your cancer care team to chat through any questions or concerns. You can have fertility tests after your treatment is finished so you know what you're dealing with. There are lots of brilliant organisations out there who support people with fertility issues, so know they've got your back. Check out the links below. 

I'm dealing with gender dysphoria or talking about fertility is triggering for me - what do I do?

If you're part of the Queer community, talking about fertility can feel even more overwhelming. Our friends at Live Through This explain "The side effects of cancer treatments are often the same whatever your sexual orientation or gender identity. But as an LGBTQ+ person, you may have some specific questions about how these will affect your sex life or your fertility options. And some side effects may be more of a problem depending on the type of sex you have." You can read more of their info on Cancer Sex and Fertility here.

Sex and cancer. That feels like a whole other topic, right?

RIGHT. It's hard to talk about fertility and cancer without talking about sex and cancer. Your sex drive, your confidence, your body image and all sorts of other things can be hugely impacted by a cancer diagnosis, its treatments and the after effects. Check out our Lifting the Lid on Sex and Cancer for more info.

"I would have loved more advice on fertility and options surrounding that. I felt really rushed into making a fairly uneducated decision." Young Adult from Trekstock Community 

I'd love some more info...

Check out our fertility topics for more information:

IVF treatment

Trekstock Talks on Fertility

Blog on adopting after cancer


Young Lives vs Cancer

When cancer strikes Young Lives vs Cancer helps is here to help. YoungLives vs Cancer is the UK’s leading charity for young cancer patients and their families. It provides specialist support to help and guide each young cancer patient and their family.

Fertility network

Fertility Network UK provides free and impartial support, advice, information and understanding for anyone affected by fertility issues. They're the nation’s leading patient-focused fertility charity and offer support on a practical and emotional level whatever your experience of fertility issues. Support line 0121 323  5025 is run by a former fertility nurse who offers a unique support service on Monday, Wednesday and Friday's from 10am - 4pm or email [email protected].