What is fertility?
For women, fertility means the ability to get pregnant. After some types of cancer treatment, women can have trouble getting pregnant. Preserving fertility after cancer treatment involves doing things before or during cancer treatment to raise a woman's chances of getting pregnant later on.
Which cancer treatments can cause fertility problems?
There are three main types of cancer treatments that can cause fertility problems.
- Chemotherapy – Chemotherapy is the medical term for medicines that kill cancer cells or stop them from growing.
- Radiation therapy – Radiation involves getting high doses of X-rays.
- Surgery – If a woman's ovaries (female sex organs) are removed, she can't get pregnant. If a woman's uterus is removed, she can't carry a pregnancy.
Chemotherapy and radiation can damage or destroy eggs in the ovaries. As a result, women might stop having periods or have irregular periods. Also, radiation can damage the uterus, which can make it hard to carry a pregnancy.
Not everyone who gets chemotherapy or radiation will have fertility problems. With chemotherapy, it depends on the medicine and dose a person gets. With radiation, it depends on the dose and part of the body treated.