Pregnancy and contraception

During your treatment you should avoid unprotected sex. You should not become pregnant or father a child while having chemotherapy or other cancer treatments. This is because some treatments can damage a developing baby and increase the risk of miscarriage.

Types of contraception

If you’re a woman having cancer treatment, and you’ve been taking the contraceptive pill, check with your doctor whether it’s safe for you to continue. The pill can slightly increase the risk of a blood clot (thrombosis) in some people. 

For women with a risk of blood clots, the safest contraception is barrier methods such as condoms or the cap. 

There’s no evidence that chemotherapy treatment will affect your sexual partner. But there’s a small chance that the drug could find its way into your body fluids.

Doctors don't know this for sure. So they advise using barrier contraception (a condom) throughout a course of chemotherapy and for a week or so afterwards.

This applies whether it is the man or the woman who's having cancer treatment.

Getting pregnant after chemotherapy

Most doctors will advise women that it’s best to wait 2 years after chemotherapy treatment before becoming pregnant.

This is not because the pregnancy could affect the cancer. It’s because if your cancer was going to come back, it would be most likely to do so within two years. You would then need more treatment – and this would be very difficult if you were pregnant or had a young baby.

This page is due for review. We will update this as soon as possible.

  • The Chemotherapy Source Book (4th edition)
    Michael C Perry
    Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins, 2008

  • Handbook of Cancer Chemotherapy (8th edition)
    Skeel, R.T. and Khleif, S.N.
    Lippincott Williams and Wilkins, 2011

  • Cancer and its Management

    J Tobias and D Houchhauser

    Wiley Blackwell 2015

Last reviewed: 
08 Sep 2020
Next review due: 
08 Sep 2023

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