Can cervical cancer lead to infertility? Here’s what you need to know

Women who undergo treatment for cervical cancer experience womb damage that prevents them from getting pregnant or carrying a child.
cervical cancer
Cervical cancer increase your risk of infertility. Image Courtesy; Adobe Stock
Dr Gunjan Sabherwal Published: 23 Mar 2023, 16:00 pm IST
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Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that affects the cervix, the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina. It is the third most common cancer among women worldwide. It is estimated to be the second most frequent type of cancer in women in India, especially for those in the reproductive age range. Hence, it can have a significant impact on a woman’s fertility. When a woman is diagnosed with cervical cancer, she may have to undergo treatment such as surgery, radiation therapy, or chemotherapy. These treatments can damage or destroy the ovaries, leading to infertility.

Causes of cervical cancer

A compromised immune system, HPV infection, and smoking are some of the risk factors for cervical cancer. If a family member has cervical cancer, they might question it if it runs in the family. Cervical cancer is sometimes inherited, but this is not always hereditary.

Impact of cervical cancer treatment on fertility

Unfortunately, after receiving treatment for cervical cancer, most women will not be able to conceive. This is because certain treatments may have an adverse effect on their womb, preventing them from becoming pregnant. The following list includes cervical cancer treatments that may have an adverse effect on a woman’s ability to become pregnant:

1. Surgery

Surgery to remove cervical cancer can involve the removal of the cervix, uterus, and/or ovaries. This type of surgery can lead to infertility because it removes the reproductive organs.

cervical cancer
Cervical cancer can make you infertile. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

2. Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy uses high-energy x-rays to kill cancer cells. It can also damage healthy cells, including the cells in the ovaries. This can lead to premature ovarian failure, which means the ovaries stop working before the age of 40.

Also read: Can poor hygiene down there give you cervical cancer? Here’s the truth

3. Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is a type of drug treatment that kills cancer cells. It can also affect healthy cells, including the cells in the ovaries. This can lead to premature ovarian failure.

However, every case is different so talk to your doctor before your treatment to see if there are any options to have a child.

Egg freezing is a solution!

For women diagnosed with cervical cancer, the possibility of infertility can be overwhelming. Dealing with infertility can be as hard as dealing with cancer. But there are options available that can give them a chance at parenthood. One such option is egg freezing.

Egg freezing is a process in which a woman’s eggs are removed from her ovaries and frozen for future use. This can be done before a woman starts cervical cancer treatment to preserve her fertility. The eggs can then be thawed and fertilized with sperm to create embryos. These embryos can be transferred to the uterus, resulting in pregnancy.

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cervical cancer
Egg freezing is an option when you have cervical cancer. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Egg freezing can also be an option for women suffering from infertility. Egg freezing allows women to preserve their eggs until they are ready to start a family. This can be particularly beneficial for women who are not ready to have children but want to preserve their fertility for the future.

It is important for women to be aware of the potential impact of cervical cancer treatment on their fertility and to discuss options with their doctor. With the advances in reproductive technology, there are options available to preserve fertility, and it is essential to have an open conversation with your healthcare provider.

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About the Author

Dr Gunjan Sabherwal, Fertility Expert, Nova Southend IVF and Fertility, Gurugam. ...Read More

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