Can you get pregnant after breast cancer treatment?

A breast cancer diagnosis can raise an endless list of questions. If you’ve been looking forward to starting (or growing) your family, one of the biggest ones is probably how your treatment will affect your chances of getting pregnant, staying pregnant, and delivering a healthy baby.

Well, here’s the good news: many women have been able to get pregnant and have healthy pregnancies and deliveries after chemotherapy and hormone treatments. But there are a few things you should think about before getting pregnant as a breast cancer survivor. Let’s take a closer look at how breast cancer treatment can affect fertility, pregnancy, and fetal development.

How can breast cancer treatment affect fertility?

Some breast cancer treatments can cause temporary or permanent infertility or make it harder to get pregnant after your treatment is over. For example, some hormone treatments can make your body think you’re going into early menopause. Sometimes fertility is restored after treatment, but not always. That’s why it’s essential to talk to your provider about any future pregnancy plans—even if you want to keep your options open—before your treatment.

Though you can’t predict how breast cancer treatment will affect your body, you can take some steps beforehand to help protect your future fertility. These include harvesting and freezing your eggs, embryo freezing, and cryopreservation of ovarian tissue. Your provider can talk you through the different options and help you figure out which (if any) fertility treatments are best for your specific situation.

Is it safe to get pregnant after breast cancer treatment?  

Recent research suggests that getting pregnant after breast cancer treatment doesn’t affect your chances of cancer returning. For a long time, doctors thought breast cancer survivors should avoid getting pregnant because hormonal fluctuations during pregnancy could increase the chances of cancer relapse. Fortunately, studies haven’t shown that to be true.

However, your provider may recommend waiting up to a year or more after successful treatment before you get pregnant, depending on the type of treatment you had and your risk of relapse. Make sure to check with your medical team before you start trying to conceive.

A pregnant woman checking her breast for breast cancer.

Can previous breast cancer treatment affect your baby’s health during pregnancy? 

Even when you’re ready (both physically and mentally) to get pregnant after breast cancer treatment, you may still have questions about how past chemotherapy or hormone therapy may affect your growing child. Breast cancer survivors may be more likely to have a baby that:

  • Has a low birth weight
  • Is small for their gestational age
  • Is born early (preterm)
  • Is born via cesarean section (C-section)

But it’s not all bad news! Research shows that past breast cancer treatment doesn’t increase your risk of miscarriage, bleeding before or after delivery, or other complications. It also doesn’t make your baby more likely to have congenital abnormalities or long-term health concerns. 

Your healthcare provider can work with you to ensure you have the best chance of conceiving and having a healthy pregnancy, delivery, and baby. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about your future fertility, no matter where you are in your treatment journey. And remember, you always have the right to ask for a second (or third) opinion!

Once you’re pregnant, you don’t have to wait long to find out whether you’re having a boy or a girl! Our Juno Birch™ Fetal Gender Test can give you the good news as early as 7 weeks into your pregnancy.

Please note: and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.

November 07, 2022 — Stephanie McClintock