Cancer can cause many changes in your life. You're likely worried about what you’ll need to do to beat cancer and restore your health. But you may also be concerned about your fertility and possible issues in the future. You may be wondering whether you will still be able to get pregnant and have a baby.
Some types of cancer won’t affect your ability to get or stay pregnant after treatment. But others may make it difficult or impossible to conceive or carry a baby to term. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), if you have cancer before age 35, you have a better chance of becoming pregnant than if you get cancer at a later age and try to get pregnant.
Cancers That Cause Fertility Issues
These are some of the cancers that may also affect the ability to get or stay pregnant.
Uterine cancer appears in the muscle, tissues, or lining of your uterus, or womb. Cancer of the lining of the uterus used to affect mostly older women but is becoming more common in women who are still able to have children.
If you have advanced cancer, you may need a hysterectomy, an operation that removes the uterus. New treatments for early cancer of the uterine lining may help you avoid this surgery.
Your ovaries make and release eggs every month. Your doctor may need to take out one or both of your ovaries if you have ovarian cancer.
This type of cancer affects the cervix, the lower part of the womb. If the cancer is found early, a treatment that only removes cancerous cells may make it possible to keep your cervix. But your surgeon may need to remove your cervix altogether if your cancer is more advanced.
Treatments that help your body attack cancer cells may also cause fertility issues. During chemotherapy, you receive drugs that kill the cells in the body that divide quickly. The treatment may also affect your body’s ability to release eggs.
You may be able to get pregnant once you end treatment, but you may have lasting problems. According to the ACS, you’re more likely to have difficulty getting pregnant if you’ve had both chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
Unable to Conceive?
Fertility treatment can increase your chances.
Pregnancy After Cancer
If you have cancer and think you may want to have a baby later, you may be able to freeze eggs before your cancer treatment begins. After your cancer treatment is over, in-vitro fertilization (IVF) may help you get pregnant. During IVF, eggs are mixed with sperm to create embryos. Then one or more embryos are placed in your uterus.
Using a surrogate may be a good choice if you’ve frozen your eggs or embryos but can’t carry a baby yourself. This may be a choice if you had a hysterectomy and no longer have a uterus, for example. Surrogates are women who volunteer or are paid to have babies for people who can’t carry a baby themselves.
Dealing with a cancer diagnosis can bring up lots of questions and concerns. No matter what age you are or what type of cancer you have, talk to your doctor to find out what you can do now to protect your chances of having a baby if and when you’re ready.
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