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Does Breast Cancer Treatment cause Fertility Issues?

Updated at: Nov 06, 2012
Written by: Bhadra KamalasananPublished at: Nov 06, 2012
Does Breast Cancer Treatment cause Fertility Issues?

Does Breast Cancer Treatment cause Fertility Issues: Breast cancer does not in itself cause fertility problems in women/men but the treatments that are used to treat breast cancer.

Breast cancer is a frightful disease. Even the thought of having to give one’s breasts away pulls the hackles straight up. What is even worse is that a woman with breast cancer has least chances of nurturing a baby because breast cancer causes the libido to nosedive. Therefore, breast cancer does cause fertility issues. Let’s tell you how.


[Read: Natural Ways to improve your Fertility]



Breast cancer does not in itself lead to infertility in women, but its treatment methods do.


  • Irregular menstrual cycles: Most women dread chemotherapy for all its side-effects.  What hurts to know more is that even though surgery is what is done first to kill the cancer cells, most women need to go through chemotherapy for complete recovery. While there are several types of chemotherapy drugs, the ones that make a woman infertile are those that fall into the category of alkylating agents. Since estrogen (female hormone) plays an important role in the occurrence of breast cancer, the chemotherapy drugs are used to lessen its amount, thereby interfering with fertility. Typically, a woman undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer will experience irregular menstrual cycle.
  • Premature Menopause: A lot of women stop menstruating after receiving chemotherapy though it is not necessary that menopause occur soon after stopping drug dosage.  Women may still experience ovulation before menopause starts.


[Read: Risks Associated with Chemotherapy]


Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy uses radiation beams to destroy the cancer cells while doing which it also destroys the eggs, making the ovaries permanently inactive. A woman may, however, be able to preserve partial fertility if the treatment is done only on one side of the ovaries.

Hormone treatment

The practise of injecting hormones is likely to inhibit the functioning of one’s ovaries. While this type of treatment can help to preserve the fertility from being destroyed by chemo drugs or other treatments, it may take up to six months for menstrual cycles to return.


[Read: Breast Cancer Surgery Women 'Risk more Operations']




When the cancer has developed to an advanced stage, the doctor recommends surgery to remove the ovaries. This will cause one to lose fertility permanently.

How to Prevent Infertility

  • One of the most effective measures to prevent infertility when going through breast cancer treatment is starting IVF before undergoing treatment. By way of IVF, you would be able to preserve your eggs and combine them with the partner’s sperm.
  • Another fertility preserving method is to freeze the eggs, though this method hasn’t been adopted openly worldwide.

For a woman to survive breast cancer, she must live through the hassles without undermining her strength to fight it.


Read more articles on Breast Cancer.



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