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Fertility and cervical cancer

Women discussing cervical cancer

This page has information on the effects of cervical cancer and pre cancer treatment on your fertility. There is information on

 

A quick guide to what's on this page

Losing your fertility

Your treatment will mean that you can no longer have children (unless you had very early cervical cancer). Even if you were not planning to have any (or any more) children, this can be quite a shock. You will experience all the feelings that come with a natural change of life, but on top of coping with a diagnosis of cancer. Many women feel very upset if they need to have a hysterectomy. This can be true even if you have had your menopause. It may take some time to get over these feelings. There is support available if you need it.

Pre cancer treatment and pregnancy

Unless you have a hysterectomy, treatment for pre cancerous changes will not affect your ability to become pregnant. For most women, treatment will not cause problems during future pregnancies. But with cone biopsy and LLETZ, there can be a small increase in risk of giving birth early, or having a low birth weight baby. This may seem worrying, but bear in mind that the risks are small. Laser ablation is not linked to any pregnancy risks.

Finding support

It may help you to share your feelings with other women who have been through similar experiences. You may be able to do this through your local cancer support group. You could talk to your GP, nurse or consultant about finding some counselling. And there are details of how to find sources of emotional support and counselling in our coping with cancer section.
 

CR PDF Icon You can view and print the quick guides for all the pages in the living with cervical cancer section.

 

 

Losing your fertility

Unless you have very early cervical cancer, your treatment will mean that you can no longer have children. If you wanted to have a child or to complete your family, this can be very difficult to cope with. Even if you were not planning to have any children in the future, the loss of your fertility can be quite a shock. It is the end of a particular phase of your life. You will have all the feelings that come with a natural change of life, but on top of having to cope with a diagnosis of cancer.

Many women feel very upset if they need to have a hysterectomy. This can be true even if you have had your menopause. It may take you some time to get over these feelings. There is help and support available if you need it. It might help to talk things over with a counsellor. You can look at our counselling organisations or cervical cancer organisations pages for groups that can put you in touch with someone to talk to.

 

Pre cancer treatment and pregnancy

Even for women with pre cancerous changes, treatment for an abnormal smear brings its own worries and anxieties. Unless you have a hysterectomy, treatment for pre cancerous changes will not affect your ability to become pregnant. For most women, treatment will not cause problems during future pregnancies. But with cone biopsy and LLETZ (large loop excision of the transformation zone), there can be a small increase in the risk of giving birth early, or having a low birth weight baby. Laser ablation does not increase the risk of you having problems with your pregnancy.

Researchers have looked at all the studies into the effects of CIN or Stage 1A cervical cancer treatment on pregnancy and published a systematic review of their findings. They found that women who had cone biopsy and LLETZ treatments were slightly more likely to give birth early (before 37 weeks). And the risk of their babies having a low birth weight (less than 2.5 kg) was a bit higher. Women were more likely to have a caesarean section if they'd had a cone biopsy, and had a slightly higher risk of their waters breaking early (premature rupture of membranes) if they'd had LLETZ. The review also showed that the amount of cervical tissue removed affected risk. The risk of an early birth was higher for women who had treatment that was more than 10mm deep.

You may feel worried about these risks, but do bear in mind

  • The risk of developing serious side effects during pregnancy is small
  • If you have cervical abnormalities, having the recommended treatment is very important for your health
  • Your doctor will talk through the treatment options with you, and discuss any risks and side effects, including effects on future pregnancies
 

Finding support

It may help you to share your worries or sense of loss with other women who have been through similar experiences. You may be able to find other women who feel as you do through your local cancer support group.

If you feel you need more help than a support group can provide, talk to your GP, nurse or consultant about finding some counselling. Or look at our counselling organisations page. There are details of organisations concerned with cervical cancer in this section. To find out more about counselling look in what is counselling?

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Updated: 10 June 2014