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Talking About Quality of Life with Survivors - Fertility

Today group of cancer survivors (young and old) joined me for a discussion about quality of life issues. They had so many wonderful suggestions on how to make the experience at a cancer center better and provided praise for things that are already done well. Yet, despite age, gender or ethnic background it was clear from this group that health care providers need to do a better job of discussing fertility/infertility, intimacy/sexual relations and other difficult topics.

It was clear that these are important topics for individuals who are healthy AND they are important topics for individuals with cancer. But, if your health care provider does NOT address these issues, please ask or have a family member or advocate ask for you. Ask what is infertility? Is pregnancy safe after cancer treatment? How will my treatment affect fertility? Is there a way for me to preserve my fertility?

Also ask about being intimate and having sexual relations. What is allowed during treatment? When is it safe to have sexual intercourse? If sexual intercourse is not safe, then what other methods for intimacy are safe and appropriate? Just because an individual may be too old to conceive children does not mean they stop wanting to be intimate or have sexual contact.

The American Cancer Society has some good information on these topics as do many other credible cancer websites.
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