Fertility and Cancer
- About fertility and cancer
- What are reproduction and fertility?
- Fertility after a cancer diagnosis
- Making decisions
- Treatment side effects and fertility
- Female options before cancer treatment
- Female options after cancer treatment
- Male options before cancer treatment
- Male options after cancer treatment
- Preserving fertility in children and adolescents
- Other ways to be a parent
- Not having a child
- Emotional impact
- Relationships and sexuality
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Fertility and Cancer
Not having a child
If you have not been able to preserve your fertility, or even if you have, you may come to accept that you won’t have a child. You might feel like you ran out of time, money or energy to keep trying to have a child. Not being able to have a child after cancer treatment may cause a range of emotions, including:
- sadness or emptiness
- a sense of grief or loss
- anger that cancer and its treatment caused changes to your body
- relief, contentment or happiness
- empowerment, if you chose not to have children.
You may feel a sense of loss for the life you thought you would have. It can take time to accept that you won’t have a child and learn to enjoy the benefits of being child-free – more time to follow other aspects of your life, focus on your relationships, advance your career or afford a different lifestyle. Many people have happy and fulfilling lives without children, or gain satisfaction from other types of nurturing.
How you feel about having a child may change over time. It may depend on if you have a partner and how they feel. If you want support, a counsellor, social worker or psychologist can talk to you about being child-free and help you deal with challenging situations (for example, if your partner feels differently to you).
Fertility and CancerDownload PDF
This information is reviewed by
This information was last reviewed October 2022 by the following expert content reviewers: Prof Martha Hickey, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, The University of Melbourne and Director, Gynaecology Research Centre, The Royal Women’s Hospital, VIC; Dr Sally Baron-Hay, Medical Oncologist, Royal North Shore Hospital and Northern Cancer Institute, NSW; Anita Cox, Cancer Nurse Specialist and Youth Cancer Clinical Nurse Consultant, Gold Coast University Hospital, QLD; Kate Cox, McGrath Breast Health Nurse Consultant, Gawler/ Barossa Region, SA; Jade Harkin, Consumer; A/Prof Yasmin Jayasinghe, Director Oncofertility Program, The Royal Children’s Hospital, Chair, Australian New Zealand Consortium in Paediatric and Adolescent Oncofertility, Senior Research Fellow, The Royal Women’s Hospital and The University Of Melbourne, VIC; Melissa Jones, Nurse Consultant, Youth Cancer Service SA/NT, Royal Adelaide Hospital, SA; Dr Shanna Logan, Clinical Psychologist, The Hummingbird Centre, Newcastle West, NSW; Stephen Page, Family Law Accredited Specialist and Director, Page Provan, QLD; Dr Michelle Peate, Program Leader, Psychosocial Health and Wellbeing Research (emPoWeR) Unit, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, The Royal Women’s Hospital and The University of Melbourne, VIC; Pampa Ray, Consumer; Prof Jane Ussher, Chair, Women’s Health Psychology, and Chief Investigator, Out with Cancer study, Western Sydney University, NSW; Prof Beverley Vollenhoven AM, Carl Wood Chair, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Monash University and Director, Gynaecology and Research, Women’s and Newborn, Monash Health and Monash IVF, VIC; Lesley Woods, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council WA.