Talking to your cancer care team about fertility before your treatment

Before you start cancer treatment, talk to your health care team about any concerns you have about your fertility. An open discussion will help you plan your cancer treatment and know what to expect.

Sometimes your cancer doctor (oncologist) may not be well-informed about fertility problems, or might seem to look at this issue as less important than saving your life with cancer treatment. But you have a right to get your questions answered, even if it means getting a second opinion or seeing a specialist. You can talk to an oncologist, surgeon, gynecologist (OB/GYN), nurse, reproductive endocrinologist, or fertility specialist.

This is not a complete list of questions, but it should give you a good starting point as you begin talking with your doctor or nurse about having children.

  • Will this treatment have any short- or long-term effect on my reproductive system? If so, what kind of effect and how long is it likely to last?
  • Can anything be done to prevent infertility before I start cancer treatment?
  • Will any of the options to preserve my fertility interfere with my cancer treatment?
  • If I become infertile, what are my options for having a family, such as adoption, using a donor egg, or having another woman carry a pregnancy for me?
  • Should I speak with a fertility specialist before treatment?
  • Once I finish treatment, how will I know if I am fertile or infertile?
  • How long should I wait to try to get pregnant after cancer treatment?
  • Can cancer treatment damage my ovaries so that I lose some or all of my eggs, or go into early menopause?
  • Is my cancer treatment likely to damage my uterus, heart, or lungs in such a way that I could have trouble with a full-term pregnancy?

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team
Our team is made up of doctors and master’s-prepared nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Last Medical Review: November 6, 2013 Last Revised: November 6, 2013

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