Ovarian cancer and your fertility

Having ovarian cancer and being treated for ovarian cancer can affect your ability to become pregnant.

You may not be sure if you want children in the future, or you may have been diagnosed just when you were planning to start trying for a baby.

The affect on your fertility can make ovarian cancer even harder to cope with compared with other cancers but there are options when it comes to starting a family.

Why does ovarian cancer affect fertility?

When you are treated for ovarian cancer you may need to have both of your ovaries, fallopian tubes and uterus (womb) removed.

Removing these organs means that you won’t be able to become pregnant naturally.

However, if you only have one ovary removed or if you have a germ cell tumour of the ovary, it might also be possible to preserve your womb so that your remaining ovary can still produce eggs to create a baby. This means that you could still become pregnant naturally.

But receiving chemotherapy for ovarian cancer may damage your remaining ovary or increase your risk of an earlier menopause.

Talking about your fertility

The main priority for your ovarian cancer treatment is to save your life.

But if having a baby is important to you it is crucial to tell your medical team before your treatment for ovarian cancer begins.

Talking openly about what you want in the future will allow you, any partner and your medical team to plan the most appropriate treatment for you while being realistic about your prospects of remaining fertile.

Sometimes it will not be possible for your treatment team to preserve your fertility so that you can have a baby naturally.

If you were diagnosed through emergency surgery your treatment may have had to to start immediately. If this is the case you may want to talk about your fertility options after your treatment and when you feel ready.

You might like to ask your treatment team these questions:

  • How can my treatment be adjusted to preserve my fertility?
  • Is it possible to preserve my eggs before treatment?
  • What are my realistic chances of becoming pregnant after my treatment?
  • How will having ovarian cancer impact my life and ability to look after a child?
  • What will happen to our children if I die from ovarian cancer in the future?
  • What are my options for fertitlity treatment?
  • How much will fertility treatment cost if I choose to go private?

Your clinical nurse specialist or consultant will be able to talk to you about further fertility counselling and provide referral letters for your GP and other fertility services.