Surgery works by taking the cancer out of the body during an operation. Sometimes taking the cancer out means taking out the body part the cancer grew into. Women who need surgery to treat a cancer affecting the ovaries, cervix or womb may face problems with their fertility. The effect of the operation on fertility depends on the type of cancer you have.
- Some surgery in the abdomen may cause scarring in the fallopian tubes. This may block the eggs travelling to meet the sperm.
- Removal of the womb during a hysterectomy results in a woman being unable to carry a child.
- If the ovaries are surgically removed (oophorectomy), a woman cannot get pregnant using her own eggs, (unless ovarian tissue is frozen at the time of surgery).
- Some female reproductive organs may be removed during surgery. This is to treat other abdominal cancers, such as bladder cancer, which can spread in the abdomen.
- Surgery to the brain for brain tumours can cause damage to the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland produces the hormones involved in egg production. Women whose pituitary gland is damaged may not be able to make the signals that are needed to use the eggs that remain in her ovary.
Cancer treatments can affect fertility by:
- Damaging or lowering the number of eggs stored in the ovaries.
- Damaging a part of the body that controls the fertility hormones.
- Removing or damaging a part of the female reproductive system.
The ways in which cancer treatments affect fertility depends upon the type of cancer and the treatment you may have.
Not all women that have cancer treatment will have a fertility problem in the future.