benner_chemo_sideeffects
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Fertility
Some types of chemotherapy can affect your sexual organs and how they work. For a woman this means that you may not be able to get pregnant. For a man, this means you may not be able to get a woman pregnant. Your age, your general health, the medications and the dose of chemotherapy you are taking will influence whether you experience changes to fertility while having treatment.

Effects on fertility may be temporary, but it can sometimes be permanent. You should talk to your healthcare team before treatment starts. 

Men

Some chemotherapy medications may reduce the number of sperm or affect their ability to move. These changes can lead to infertility. Some chemotherapy medications may also damage sperm, which may lead to birth defects if your partner becomes pregnant during your treatment.

What you can do

  • Talk to your doctor about visiting a sperm bank before your treatment starts. Procedures are available that offer you the option of freezing sperm for future use.
  • Use a reliable method of birth control during treatment. Talk to your healthcare team about what method is right for you and your partner, and how long to continue to use it.

 

Women

Pregnancy

You should always use a birth control method during chemotherapy. Chemotherapy medications can be harmful to a developing fetus. Discuss birth control choices with your healthcare team.

If you are pregnant when your cancer is discovered, it may be possible to delay chemotherapy treatment until after the baby is born. Or your healthcare team may suggest waiting until after the twelfth week of pregnancy before starting chemotherapy. 

Ending the pregnancy may need to be considered in some situations. Your doctor will discuss this important decision with you. Support is there to help you understand the risks and benefits of this option.

Some chemotherapy medications may cause your ovaries to stop releasing eggs. If this happens, getting pregnant is not possible. Once your treatment ends, your ovaries may start releasing eggs again and your periods may return to normal. 

Fortunately, some new options are available for women who are about to undergo chemotherapy. Ask your doctor about ways to preserve your eggs to use after treatment ends.

Chemotherapy medications can reduce the amount of hormones your ovaries produce. Your menstrual periods may become irregular, or stop completely, while you are on chemotherapy. If this happens, you may experience symptoms related to menopause. Menopause caused by chemotherapy may be temporary or permanent.

Chemotherapy may also cause menopause-like symptoms, such as hot flashes and dry vaginal tissues. These tissue changes can make intercourse uncomfortable and you may be more likely to get bladder and/or vaginal infections. Talk to your healthcare team right away if you think you have an infection.

What you can do to help control hot flashes
  • Choose light clothing and wear it in layers that can be removed
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol
  • Get as much exercise as you can

What you can do to relieve vaginal symptoms and prevent infection
  • Use a water-based vaginal lubricant when having sex. Avoid using petroleum jelly. It increases the risk of infection.
  • Ask your pharmacist about vaginal gels that ease the effects of dryness.
  • Ask your doctor about an estrogen ring or estrogen cream to relieve dryness.
  • Ask your doctor about a vitamin E vaginal suppository to help ease symptoms of dryness.
  • Wear cotton underwear and pantyhose with a ventilated cotton lining.
  • Avoid wearing tight slacks or shorts.
Southlake Regional Health Centre
596 Davis Drive, Newmarket, Ontario   L3Y 2P9
Tel: 905-895-4521   |   TTY: 905-952-3062
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