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Having sex when on chemotherapy

I am having chemotherapy and am worried it may be harmful to my husband during sex. Do chemicals get passed on during intercourse, including oral sex and kissing?

It is not known for sure whether or not there is a risk that chemotherapy drugs can be passed on through semen or secretions from the vagina. But it has been suggested that chemotherapy can get into vaginal fluids. Because of this doctors advise people to use a barrier method of contraception, such as condoms, if you have intercourse while you are having chemotherapy treatment.

This advice is only for the time you are actually having the treatment and for about a week after your treatment. After this time any chemotherapy will have left your body. The advice is the same for oral sex and intimate kissing, where body fluids pass between people. This advice is the same whether it is the man or the woman being treated.

Remember – it is important to avoid pregnancy when on chemotherapy because of the risk that these drugs could cause harm to a developing baby. Your doctor will tell you how long it is advisable to wait before trying to get pregnant after chemotherapy. There is more information about pregnancy and contraception when on chemotherapy in our chemotherapy section.

And there is information about how treatment for cancer can affect your sex life in our coping with cancer section.

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Updated: 18 April 2013