Survey Suggests Breast Cancer Patients' Fertility And Sexual Health Considerations Are Often Overlooked

You don't have to wait until you have breast cancer symptoms to be in the know about this genetic disease. According to MedlinePlus, breast cancer can affect men and women. Cells in the breast tissue restructure and grow uncontrollably, often creating tumors. Regular mammograms are an important way to stay up-to-date on your breast health and possibly detect the early stages of this cancer. Even things like more exercise and less alcohol can lower the risk of diagnosis.


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, breast cancer is treated in several ways, and patients often undergo various methods of medication. Different kinds of therapy attack cancerous cells using x-rays and medicine. Other therapy methods aim to cut off the supplies cancer cells need to survive. With different breast cancer treatments come different side effects. Yet the possibility of a patient's fertility and sexual health being disrupted may be the most commonly overlooked.

How breast cancer affects fertility and sexual health

Treatment for breast cancer can have serious effects on a patient's sexual health. According to Breast Cancer Now, a decrease in sexual desire is linked to treatment for the illness. It can take months for an individual's sex drive to return. Despite the aftermath of treatments, patients record that health providers failed to discuss these matters before treatment, according to Living Beyond Breast Cancer. A 2020 study conducted by the organization reported that of the patients assessed 86% were unable to communicate with healthcare providers about sexual health.


Along with sex life affecting your health, fertility matters are often overlooked as well. According to the American Cancer Society, certain treatments for breast cancer, like chemotherapy, can damage ovaries, leading to infertility. Yet LBBC's survey records only 49% of patients discussing such fertility circumstances with their doctors. The director of outreach for LBBC and leader of the survey Arin Ahlum Hanson says, "What is really important is that those conversations are had early on at that point of diagnosis to help young women make those decisions to pursue fertility preservation or just be informed that this may impact their future family planning desires" (via U.S. News).