Birth Control and Breast Cancer

Updated 
August 31, 2015
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If you were not in menopauseinfo-icon before your breast cancer diagnosisinfo-icon and you are sexually active, it’s important to discuss birth control, or contraception, with your doctor.

During treatment, you should not become pregnant. Early in pregnancy, chemotherapyinfo-icon and hormonal therapyinfo-icon can harm a fetus and lead to birth defects.

Your periods may become irregular or stop for a time because of treatment, but you can still become pregnant.

Why Birth Control Pills Should Not Be Used

Birth control pills are a type of hormonal contraception, so there is concern that it may impact the risk of cancer in the future. As a result, they are not recommended for women who have had breast cancer.  

Birth Control to Use During Treatment

Some non-hormonal birth control methods to consider:

  • Condoms. These thin sheaths of latex, lambskin, polyurethane or polyisoprene fit snugly over a man’s erect penis.
    • If chemotherapyinfo-icon produces vaginal changes, such as narrowing, latex may be irritating and uncomfortable. Lambskin, polyurethane or polyisoprene are thinner and may cause less discomfort.
  • Diaphragm. This birth control is a shallow siliconeinfo-icon cup inserted in the vagina. To be effective, diaphragms must be used with a spermicide cream, gel or jelly.
  • IUD. An intrauterine device, or IUD, is a small, T-shaped frame made of copper and plastic (ParaGard) or plastic alone (Mirena). It prevents sperm from fertilizing an egg.

Pregnancy After Treatment

If you want to get pregnant after breast cancer treatment, talk with your healthcare team as soon as possible about protecting your fertilityinfo-icon. Timing is critical, so try to talk before you start any type of therapyinfo-icon.

Your team should talk with you about how chemotherapyinfo-icon and other treatments might affect your fertility. Ask to see a reproductive endocrinologist, a doctor who can explain ways to preserve or protect your fertility and help you plan for future pregnancies.

After treatment, ask your doctor how long you should wait before trying to safely become pregnant. There does not appear to be any increased risk of cancer recurrenceinfo-icon if you have children. 

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Article August 31, 2015