Having sex when on chemotherapy | Cancer Research UK
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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?

It is not known for sure whether or not chemotherapy drugs can be passed on through semen or secretions from the vagina. Because of this doctors advise people to use a barrier method (such as condoms, femidoms or dental dams) during sex while having treatment. This applies to vaginal, anal or oral sex.

It is not known how long these drugs could be present in secretions. Generally, doctors advise a barrier method only for the time you are actually having the treatment and for about a week after your treatment.

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. 

Advice like this can be worrying, but this does not mean that you have to avoid being intimate with your partner. You can still have close contact with your partner and continue to enjoy sex.

Read about pregnancy, contraception and fertility.

Go to more information about sex, sexuality and cancer

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Updated: 17 January 2015