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Sex, fertility and cancer drugs

Cancer drugs can affect your sex life and fertility. Find out more about these effects for men and women, and where you can find further information. 

How cancer drugs can affect your sex life and fertility

Many different types of drugs are used to treat cancer. Some drugs can affect your sex life. Some might stop you being able to have a child. This is called infertility.

Chemotherapy can affect fertility. But little is known about the effect of hormone therapies, biological therapies or bisphosphonates on fertility.

It is important not to become pregnant or father a child while taking any type of cancer drug. The drugs may harm a baby developing in the womb.

Research hasn't been done to look at the risks of having sex while being treated with biological therapies. Experts do not think there is any risk. However if you are worried, use a condom while on treatment. 

Women’s sex lives and fertility

Sex life

Cancer drugs can lower some women’s sex drive for a while due to tiredness, hormone changes or other side effects. Your sex drive will usually go back to normal some time after the treatment ends.

Chemotherapy can lower the amount of hormones your ovaries make. They may cause an early menopause for some women.

Some hormone therapies can also cause an early menopause. You might get menopausal symptoms even if you have already had your menopause.

Biological therapies and bisphosphonates do not usually cause an early menopause or affect your sex life.

Fertility

Some types of chemotherapy can cause an early menopause and stop you from being able to become pregnant in the future. You can talk to your doctor about this before your treatment.

It is sometimes possible to store eggs or embryos before treatment.

Biological therapies, hormone therapies and bisphosphonates do not usually cause permanent infertility.

Men’s sex lives and fertility

Sex life

Cancer drugs can lower some men’s sex drive for a while due to tiredness or other side effects. Your sex drive will usually go back to normal soon after the treatment ends.

Some types of chemotherapy reduce the amount of male hormone (testosterone) made by the testes. This also usually goes back to normal some time after the treatment ends.

Some men with prostate cancer have treatment with hormone therapies to lower testosterone levels. Hormone therapies can reduce your sex drive. You might not be able to get or keep an erection. You may also get breast swelling and tenderness.

Biological therapies and bisphosphonates do not usually affect your sex life.

Fertility

Some types of chemotherapy can stop you from being able to father a child in the future. You can talk to your doctor about this. It is sometimes possible to collect and store sperm before treatment.

Biological therapies, hormone therapies and bisphosphonates do not usually cause permanent infertility.

Contact our cancer information nurses for more information on sex and fertility after cancer drug treatment on freephone 0808 800 4040. The lines are open from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.

Information and help

Dangoor sponsorship

About Cancer generously supported by Dangoor Education since 2010.