The impacts of cancer treatment on fertility (if any) are unique for everyone. Even if you don’t plan to have children, knowing your fertility status can be helpful when it comes to sexual health and other aspects of your wellbeing. If you have questions or concerns about your fertility, speak to your GP, a member of your treating team or another health professional you know and trust.

Below are some thoughts, experiences and advice other young people have shared with us about fertility after treatment for cancer.

How do you feel about your fertility?

“I will not know for 12 months post-treatment whether I am fertile or not… so I don’t see the need to worry or fret about it.”

“I don’t intend to have children, this has not changed, so it has not been a concern for me.”

“My chances of having children is quite low now, however before my experience I never saw myself having kids anyway. I was asked if I wanted to sperm bank; however, I was quite sick and didn’t really see the point. I guess my values don’t see myself having kids either so overall I wasn’t affected by that.”

“My debulking surgery including a full hysterectomy and oophorectomy, meaning I am unable to have children of my own. During my surgery there was someone ready to take any tissue from my ovaries to be used via surrogacy, but unfortunately this was not possible. I am only 25 and was talking about having a family with my long term partner in the next few years. I am still grieving this loss, and feel like I always will be, however we are looking at other options and are determined to still have a family in some form.”

“I’m indifferent to my fertility. I only have one ovary left and I was put into early menopause during treatment. I started chemo 3 weeks after I was diagnosed and had surgery, so I had no time to do an egg collection. I finished treatment six months ago but I still haven’t had my period. I’m not really worried about it though, and I am booked in to see my fertility specialist next month.”

“It’s not lost on me that I happened to be cast on the side of good fortune when time allowed me to freeze my eggs, but I don’t always think about it. I wasn’t concerned about what may happen in the future when the question of my fertility was on the frontline. I felt this strange over-confidence towards the whole process; that this was something I was doing for someday but today wasn’t the time to concern myself with it. Maybe the magnitude of having to grapple with such a decision hasn’t hit me, or maybe because I was moved from doctor to nurse to gynaecologist and psychologist within a manner of hours meant I was constantly feeding questions about how I felt rather than sitting with the feeling itself.

Whether I need them (the eggs) or not, whether they’ll work or stop, was and still is a pain I don’t choose to reckon with. Despite knowing I want to be a mother, time is outside of my control. Whether that comes naturally, from a test tube or by signing papers at a border, if I find myself on the side of good fortune again, I’ll dive in and if life pulls another punch and I am unable to have a child, like all pain and grief, I’ll learn to not survive it, but endure it.

I’m fully aware that the feelings scattered in-between these words aren’t as easily reassured by a poignant prose but maybe, hopefully, by reading them we can both acknowledge that some things are out of control, in fact, everything is and however long it takes to sit more lightly with this great big grey area sprung by cancer, let it be.”

What worries or concerns do you have?

“Whether the treatment has rendered me infertile AND if my ONE sample is enough to have children.”

“No real issues; if I do change my mind in the future on having kids there are so many options these days.”

“Part of my grief is feeling like things aren’t fair, why some people are able to have children and I can’t- this can easily turn into a negative spiral. I am processing my feelings and feel in control, but I am worried that one day I might spiral so far I won’t be able to pull myself out. It is a very dark place.”

What advice do you have for others?

“If you have time, educate yourself about the different forms of fertility preservation, whether that’s freezing eggs or some of your ovary, or being put into a temporary menopause. You may not even be thinking about having kids now, but it’s better to have some options, rather than none.”

“If you are wanting children it is pushing to store your sperm or eggs, if you have the strength and will for it. But that doesn’t mean the end of world if you can’t. There is always adoption, or having someone else help out. I know that it’s not the norm but either is going through cancer.”

“The earlier the conversations about fertility are happening the better. If your treatment has left you unable to have a family ‘traditionally,’ take the time to grieve but also remember that grief is not a linear timeline.”

“Get all the right advice before treatment [if you can]. Then don’t worry about what you can’t control.”