Chemotherapy and radiation therapy can affect your ability to have children (fertility) in the future. Although this is a common side effect with higher doses of treatment, it’s still possible to get pregnant or get someone pregnant. Birth control is recommended for patients undergoing transplant, especially within the first year after transplant.

Sexual desire can also be affected by hormonal changes, excessive fatigue, cancer pain or treatment, or changes in a person’s self-image, or fertility. Some women stop having their menstrual cycles after a blood or marrow transplant and might benefit from hormone replacement therapy to relieve menopausal symptoms. Talk to you provider about treatment options.

Some men might experience decreased or absent sperm count after cancer treatment. The ability to get and/or maintain an erection or ejaculate can be altered post-transplant but should return to baseline after a few months. If this does not occur, please talk to your health care provider about treatment options.

Graft-versus-host disease can affect the structure of the vaginal wall in some women.

Signs and symptoms

  • Vaginal dryness
  • Pain with intercourse
  • Hot flashes
  • Mood swings
  • Infertility
  • Inability to get and/or maintain erection
  • Inability to orgasm
  • Inability to ejaculate

Recommendations

  • Use birth control for 1 year post transplant and while on certain medications. Discuss with your health care provider before stopping birth control.
  • Seek counseling with your BMT social worker if you are distressed about the possibility of not being able to have children or fertility loss and its impact on you and your partner or future partner.
  • For more information, please refer to the booklet, “Sexuality and Cancer,” provided by the American Cancer Society. Also talk to your social worker who can refer you to several agencies or support groups for more information.