Pregnancy After Cancer: Can You Get Pregnant After Cancer?

Cancer is no longer a rare disease that only affects other people. Today we see cancer in our homes. Cancer spares no one, and you can never be sure just when some cells of your body will grow out of control and become cancerous.

Cancer treatment invariably causes great damage in the way of side effects. Chemotherapy affects every area of the body and doesn’t even spare fertility. The residue of the effects of the chemo remains long after you have stopped treatment and continue to cause extensive damage to your body, especially your internal organs, including reproductive organs.

Effects of Cancer Treatments on Pregnancy

The treatments of cancer like radiation therapy, chemotherapy or surgery of the cervix usually affect future pregnancy.

  • Radiation therapy affects the blood supply and support cells of the uterus, which increases the risks of miscarriage, premature birth, low birth weight, etc.
  • Chemotherapy increases the risk of heart diseases in women, which makes it difficult to carry a pregnancy.
  • A cervix surgery affects the cervix, which in turn is more likely to cause miscarriage or premature birth.

Pregnancy after Cancer Treatments

Pregnancy after recovering from any type of cancer can be unnerving. Many cancer patients fear that their unborn child may contact the illness while in the uterus. This thought can be very frightening. It is enough to give expecting mother nightmares.

Doctors advise patients to keep a gap of at least 2 years before planning a baby to avoid any ill effects of the strong cancer treatment drugs on the baby. Doctors are mainly worried about deformities and malformation abnormalities that could occur in the foetus.

If the cancer patient is young and does not have children yet or is planning for delayed parenthood, the doctors usually advise fertility preservation before beginning the chemotherapy. As the egg retrieval after chemotherapy reduces the quality of eggs.

Fertility preservation is a process whereby the mature eggs are extracted from the ovaries and frozen for future use. It is a wonderful method to preserve fertility not just in the case of cancer but for women who plan to have children later but are getting on in age. Egg quality deteriorates as a woman ages, and egg preservation is a way to hold onto reproductive youth.

Chemotherapy and radiation can damage the eggs in the ovaries, and since women do not produce any new eggs, the eggs will get permanently damaged. Trying to use your existing eggs from the ovaries after chemotherapy could risk leading to serious birth defects in the baby.

Egg freezing eliminates the chances of the baby being affected by radiation or chemo medication. Generally, eggs can be frozen for a period of up to 10 years.

Cancer can also severely hamper male fertility, especially if the radiation was near the testicular area. It can cause irreversible damage to the Spermatogonia, which are the sperm-producing cells. Men are advised to freeze their sperms for future use. This is just in case of any permanent damage to the sperm production organs.

Similar to egg freezing sperms can also be frozen for a period of up to 10 years. These sperms can be used any time for fertilising the egg of the female partner, and there is no need to wait for the cancer treatment to finish.

Suggestions for Patients Undergoing Treatment

If a couple wishes to have a baby while the female partner is undergoing cancer treatment, they can opt for a surrogate mother. Surrogacy is also an alternate option if the uterus is damaged or removed due to cancer treatment. Cancer can also affect the uterus or ovaries. Uterine cancer is quite common in women and requires the uterus to be removed, and sometimes even the ovaries are removed if cancer has spread to the ovaries.

In cases where the eggs have been frozen, a woman can still hope to have her own child through surrogacy. Today surrogacy is quite common, and healthy surrogate mothers can easily be arranged by fertility clinics. The surrogate mother has no genetic connection to the baby and also has no legal claim to the baby. So parents can rest their fears regarding surrogacy.

Even though cancer is a dreadful disease, and it can take the best out of you. When it comes to fertility, there are still various options to have a baby.

Other Concerns about having Pregnancy after Cancer 

Risk of children getting cancer as many people who have had cancer worry that their children may get cancer, too.

Cancer has the risk of recurrence, and which is why some healthcare providers advise some cancer survivors to wait 2 years before trying to get pregnant.

It is usually assumed that cancer and fertility are inversely proportional. Some treatments of cancer make it difficult for survivors to conceive a pregnancy or carry it to term.

All men and women who wish to have baby should talk with their healthcare provider about potential infertility before treatment begins. They should also discuss options to preserve fertility.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I have a baby after cancer?

Usually, pregnancy after cancer treatment is safe for both the mother and baby. It does not seem to raise the risk of cancer coming back. Still, some women may be told to wait a number of years before trying to have a baby.

Can cancer patients get pregnant?

A pregnant woman with cancer has the same outlook as a woman with cancer who isn't pregnant. Typically, being pregnant while having cancer shouldn't affect your overall prognosis.

Can chemotherapy make you infertile?

Chemotherapy can stop your ovaries from functioning. This causes infertility, which can be temporary or permanent. It can also lead to early menopause

Does chemotherapy kill sperm?

Chemotherapy can damage sperm forming cells in young boys and sperm in many men. Moreover, the hormone therapy can also decrease the production of sperm.

Can chemotherapy harm a fetus?

Chemotherapy seems to be safe for the baby if given in the second or third trimester of pregnancy, but it isn't safe in the first trimester. Other breast cancer treatments, such as hormone therapy, targeted therapy, and radiation therapy, are more likely to harm the baby and are not usually given during pregnancy.