Ovarian Cancer Home > Does Ovarian Cancer Mean I Can't Have Children?

If you've been diagnosed with ovarian cancer, can you still have children? The answer to this question varies depending on several factors, including what type of treatment is necessary. For some women, pregnancy is possible following their treatment (it is typically recommended to wait a year). If pregnancy is not possible after treatment ends, you may wish to consider surrogacy, adoption, or other options.

Are Children Possible After Ovarian Cancer?

Getting a diagnosis of ovarian cancer is traumatic for most women, but for those who still want to have children, it may be beyond terrifying. Does this mean you can't have children? There are many factors to consider before answering this question. Also, there may be a different answer for each woman, depending on her particular stage of ovarian cancer, her age, and various other factors.

Effects of Ovarian Cancer on Fertility

In most cases, women tend to develop ovarian cancer after they have passed their childbearing age. Although all women are at risk for this form of cancer, approximately 90 percent of the women who do get it are older than 40 years of age. Most cases tend to occur in women age 60 and older.
However, this form of cancer can strike any woman, regardless of age. Some women have not yet had children when they receive their diagnosis. This can be overwhelming news, particularly if they desire to have children someday. The stage of cancer and the recommended treatment plan will be some of the factors that come into play when trying to determine how the cancer will affect a woman's fertility.
Fertility, or the ability to produce children, is not always affected by ovarian cancer treatment. If you only need to have one ovary removed during treatment, it is still possible to become pregnant. However, certain forms of ovarian cancer treatment may cause you to become infertile and unable to become pregnant without medical intervention. Treatments that may affect your fertility include:
  • Chemotherapy, which can cause the menstrual cycle to stop and interfere with how your ovaries function
  • Radiation directed at your pelvis, which can affect how your ovaries produce a mature egg
  • Surgery that removes both ovaries.
If your treatment plan will include any of these steps and you want to have children, you may want to first see a reproductive endocrinologist, who specializes in infertility treatment
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Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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