Conceiving after Chemotherapy: Yay or Nay?

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Conceiving after Chemotherapy: Yay or Nay?


People believe that getting cancer means they will never be able to live normally again. And this perhaps is the biggest misconception that needs to be cleared up. Cancer is treatable with the help of your medical doctor and oncologist and life can very much become better once it’s gone. You can do pretty much anything you want to, including becoming a mother!

Yes, for most people, conception after cancer is next to impossible. You will be amazed to discover that there are hundreds of people out there who have had babies, even though they have been through a cancerous situation. There are certain conditions and occurrences that you will need to consider, but conception after chemotherapy is possible. Here is all the information you need to find out whether having children after fighting off cancer is possible for you, be you male or female.

Some Facts

Studies clearly indicate that there is nothing wrong with opting for pregnancy after chemo for cancer. This means that the answer is a definite yes. Of course there are some cases where conception may be more difficult as medicines used during chemo can be ones that causes temporary infertility.

If you and your partner are considering conceiving there are certain things that need to be kept in mind. These are:

  • Even though there is no particular time period that needs to be considered, most oncologists suggest that women wait at least 2 years before thinking of becoming pregnant. But this is only a general guideline, you will need to ask your doctor before moving ahead with any kind of planning.
  • Has the cancer gone completely into remission? There should be no chance of any immediate recurrence as that might become dangerous for both mother and the baby.
  • Eggs that were present during the process of chemo must be out of the body because these could be damaged or have some kind of abnormality in them due to medicine absorption.

Doctors recommend  that you avoid conceiving while you are going through chemo. This is because there is always a slight possibility of the fetus acquiring cancer not in terms of an active one, but one that becomes a part of its genes. So yes, conception after a safe time period of chemo is fine, but preferably not during treatment itself.  Talk to your medical doctor about the specifics of your case.

The Case of Fertility

The first thing most men and women ask if they are young, is whether or not they will remain fertile after the process of chemotherapy, as it is meant to kill most of the diseased and quite a few healthy cells in the body. Research suggest that for many kind of cancer treatments, one of the side effects is temporary infertility. But this is not something that happens to everyone as severity of the cancer, its stage and medicine used play a vital role in whether or not infertility occurs.

Medicines that Could Cause Birth Defects

According to experts, the use of certain medication during chemo can lead to birth defects or an abnormal pregnancy. These medicines are:

  • Thalidomide
  • Lenalidomide
  • Bevacizumab
  • Imatinib
  • Busulfan
  • Carboplatin
  • Cyclophosphamide
  • Chlorambucil
  • Cisplatin
  • Carmustine
  • Dacarbazine
  • Doxorubicin
  • Ifosfamide
  • Lomustine
  • Mechlorethamine
  • Temozolomide
  • Procarbazine
  • Melphalan

The above mentioned drugs are the worst ones for fertility, hence the reason why you will need to discuss with your doctor if you plan to start a family after completing your cancer treatment. There are other drugs that can be used to treat your type of cancer, but your doctor is the best judge.

Things to Consider for Pregnancy after Chemo

If you and your partner are thinking of having babies once chemo is out of the way, here are some factors that play an important role:

  • Age: Age does matter when conception is concerned. The younger a woman is, the more eggs she will have. So if your chemo happens before 35, you can have kids  without the need for infertility treatments.
  • Early menopause: This is one risk that some women may face when they have chemo before or during the onset of puberty, they might have menopause earlier than normal. This is something you will need to discuss with your doctor before the start of chemo.
  • Periods is not equal to fertility: Understand this loud and clear, just because you have periods does not mean you are fertile. You might need to see a fertility specialist in order to determine whether or not your cells are functioning properly.
  • Risk or recurrence: What are the chances of your having the cancer back? This is something only your medical doctor can tell. As of yet, there is no research that shows that cancer can come back on with pregnancy, so there is no risk once your doctor gives you a clear signal.

If you are fearful that your child may be at risk when you become pregnant, most doctors beg to differ. The child has no link whatsoever with any kind of cancer cells, so they will be perfectly safe. You oncologist as well as gynecologist will keep a check on how things progress and will inform you if something is happening out of the ordinary.


Even if your cancer was one that robbed you of conceiving normally, there are still other options. Some of these include having your eggs frozen before the start of chemo,, using donated eggs or sperm, infertility treatments, and even adoption.

You have to keep in mind that the one thing that you simply cannot do is lose hope. If it is parenting you seek, then you have dozens of ways of becoming one. Cancer cannot take away this precious thing from you. So focus on your chemo and talk to your medical doctor before the start of any treatment..


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