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A cancer diagnosis can be so overwhelming and thinking about whether to have children in the future may be the last thing on your mind.  Most people just want to focus on getting through their treatment.

Some types of cancer, and some types of cancer treatment can affect sperm and eggs, which may prevent or reduce the chances of having a baby.

Therefore, your fertility is an important part of the conversation with your cancer doctor before treatment starts.

Cancer specialists (oncologists) can refer you to a fertility specialist who will explain the available options for protecting your fertility both before and after cancer treatment.

In some cases, fertility will not be affected by cancer treatment, so it’s important to use contraception if you don’t want to become pregnant.

Your fertility is an important part of the conversation you have with your cancer doctor, before any treatment starts.

The facts about cancer, treatment and fertility

Depending on the type, cancer and cancer treatment (chemotherapy, radiotherapy, hormone therapy, etc) can affect:

  • the ovaries (women)
  • sperm production (men)
  • some women’s ability to carry a pregnancy
  • some women’s and men’s ability to have sexual intercourse.
  • What you can do

    The Cancer and fertility section of the Victorian Assisted Reproductive Treatment Authority website describes options for protecting fertility for men and women diagnosed with cancer.

  • For women

    For women, they can include:

            Freezing eggs

            Freezing embryos

            Freezing ovarian tissue

            Protecting ovaries by using hormone medication

  • For men

    Men may be able to:

            Freeze their sperm

            Freeze tiny bits of testicular tissue for later use


    Andrology Australia’s Fertility preservation fact sheet offers more information for men.

    Your cancer specialist or fertility specialist can discuss the options with you and help you decide which method is best for you.

Looking for more?

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Thinking about having a baby?

How men and women can increase their chance of getting pregnant and having a healthy baby.