Side Effects of Chemotherapy

Infertility - Women

Some types of chemotherapy can cause infertility. This means that you may not be able to get pregnant. Chemotherapy may damage the ovaries. This damage can lower the number of healthy eggs in the ovaries. It can also reduce the hormones produced by them. The drop in hormones can lead to early menopause. Early menopause and fewer healthy eggs can cause infertility.

Whether or not you become infertile depends on the kind of chemotherapy you receive, your age, and whether you have other health problems. Infertility can last the rest of your life.

 

Ways to Deal with the Prospect of Infertility:

Talk with your doctor or nurse about:

  • Your desire to have children. Before you start chemotherapy, let your doctor or nurse know if you want to get pregnant in the future. He or she may talk with you about ways to preserve your eggs to use after treatment ends or refer you to a fertility specialist.
  • Birth control. It is essential that you do not get pregnant while receiving chemotherapy, as the drugs used during treatment can damage the foetus, especially in the first 3 months of pregnancy. If you have not yet gone through menopause, talk with your doctor or nurse about birth control and ways to prevent you from falling pregnant.
  • If you still have menstrual periods, your doctor or nurse may ask you to have a pregnancy test before you start chemotherapy. If you are pregnant, your doctor or nurse will talk to you about other treatment options.

Infertility - Men

Some types of chemotherapy can cause infertility. This means you may not be able to get a woman pregnant. Chemotherapy may damage sperm cells, which grow and divide quickly. Infertility may occur because chemotherapy can lower sperm count, make sperm less able to move, or cause another type of damage.

Whether or not you become infertile depends on the kind of chemotherapy you receive, your age, and whether you have other health problems. Infertility can last the rest of your life.

Ways to Deal with the Prospect of Infertility:

Talk with your doctor or nurse about:

  • Your desire to have children. Before you start chemotherapy, let your doctor or nurse know if you might want to father children in the future. He or she may talk with you about ways to preserve your sperm to use in the future or refer you to a fertility specialist.
  • Birth control. It is critical that your spouse or partner does not fall pregnant while you are receiving chemotherapy. Chemotherapy can damage your sperm and cause birth defects.
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