When you’re diagnosed with breast cancer, you have so many decisions to make. And if you want to get pregnant and have children in the future, the medical decisions become even more complex. Many women diagnosed with breast cancer have fertility concerns. But because each woman’s situation is unique, it’s not easy to study pregnancy in women with breast cancer or women who have been treated for breast cancer.
Some treatments for breast cancer can cause temporary infertility or make it harder for you to get pregnant after treatment ends. Other treatments cause permanent and irreversible menopause, which means you are permanently infertile.
Fertility after chemotherapy depends on two things:
Your age: As every woman ages, her ovaries produce fewer fertile eggs. When you go into menopause, your ovaries stop making fertile eggs. Women who are treated for cancer younger than age 30 have the best chance of becoming pregnant after chemotherapy. Overall, the younger you are, the more likely it is your ovaries will produce fertile eggs after chemotherapy.
Women who are 40 or older when they get chemotherapy are more likely to be in menopause after chemotherapy.
The closer you are to menopause (the average age is 51), the more likely it is that you’ll be in menopause after chemotherapy and won’t be able to become pregnant.
The types and doses of chemotherapy drugs you get: We know that certain chemotherapy medicines are more likely than others to cause infertility, whether your infertility is temporary or permanent depends partly on your drugs and doses.
Chemotherapy can cause ovarian damage or failure and it can also bring on menopause.
Some health care providers recommend women not to get pregnant in the first 6 months after finishing chemotherapy. They say that any damaged eggs will leave the body within those first 6 months. Other health care providers suggest waiting 2 to 5 years before trying to have a baby. This is because cancer may be more likely to come back in the earlier years. And cancer treatment during pregnancy is more complicated.
If you think you may want to have children one day, the best time to talk to your doctor about fertility is before you begin breast cancer treatment. This way you will get the option to preserve your fertility through eggs freezing in order to do IVF after completion of chemotherapy. Egg Freezing offers you flexibility in delaying pregnancy for later in life and allows you to take control of your own biological clock.