Sex, fertility and cancer drugs | Cancer Research UK
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How cancer drugs might affect your sex life and fertility

Many different types of drugs are used to treat cancer. Some drugs can affect your sex life. Some may stop you being able to have a child. This is called infertility. Our cancer drugs section has a separate page about each individual cancer drug, so you can see whether your drug is likely to have these effects.

In our sex, sexuality and cancer section you can find detailed information about coping with the effects of cancer treatment on sexuality.

We have information about the effects of chemotherapy treatment on fertility in our chemotherapy section. Little is known about the effect of hormone therapies, biological therapies or bisphosphonates on fertility. But 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 cancer drugs

Cancer drugs may 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. We have information about the effects on your sex life of an early menopause due to chemotherapy.

Some hormone therapies can also cause an early menopause. You may get menopausal symptoms even if you have already had your menopause. We have detailed information about the effects on your sex life of menopausal symptoms due to hormone therapy drugs. Biological therapies and bisphosphonates do not usually cause an early menopause or affect your sex life.

 

Men’s sex lives and cancer drugs

Cancer drugs may 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 may 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.

 

Effects of cancer drugs on male 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 as it is sometimes possible to collect and store sperm before treatment. We have information about men’s fertility and chemotherapy. Biological therapies, hormone therapies and bisphosphonates do not usually cause permanent infertility.

 

Effects of cancer drugs on female 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. We have detailed information about women’s fertility and chemotherapy.

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

 

More information about cancer drugs, sex and fertility

If you would like more information about sex and fertility after cancer drug treatment, contact our cancer information nurses. They will be happy to help.

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Updated: 6 August 2014