- Question from Mary: I have just started taking tamoxifen. What are the chances of getting pregnant on tamoxifen? With being premenopausal I find that this is always in the back of my mind and know that it wouldn't be good to get pregnant at this stage of my life, being 49.
- Answers - Leslie R. Schover, Ph.D. Whenever a woman takes tamoxifen and is still in the years when she might be fertile, she is advised to use birth control, since tamoxifen could potentially harm a fetus. It sounds unlikely that you might get pregnant at age 49, but remember that in Europe tamoxifen is used as a fertility drug like we use Clomid here. In a woman who is not yet in menopause, tamoxifen raises estrogen levels and can cause ovulation.
- Marisa Weiss, M.D. When tamoxifen is used to help with infertility, it's used with a different dosage and in a different manner than it is for women with breast cancer (at 20 mg. per day).
- Debra Thaler-DeMers Any woman who is in the fertile time of her life who is currently on chemotherapy should use some form of birth control. Many chemotherapy drugs can cause birth defects when used early in pregnancy.
Marisa Weiss, M.D.
If you were premenopausal and your chemotherapy stopped your periods, you may still be able to get pregnant. For many women, the loss of periods may be temporary, and you can't predict exactly when your periods may resume, if they do so at all. With the changes in your vagina, you may find condoms uncomfortable. The latex may cause some irritation. This may force you to identify other sources of effective birth control.
Although a diaphragm may not be the most appealing form, it is effective if used properly. It is used along with a spermicide which can help lubricate the area. If the spermicide irritates your vagina, you can rinse the vagina out with water five hours after intercourse, when you remove the diaphragm as well. This will limit the amount of time that your vagina is in contact with the spermicide. Birth control pills are generally not known to be safe in women who've had breast cancer. Therefore, most doctors will not prescribe this form of birth control if you've had breast cancer.
- Debra Thaler-DeMers There's an IUD on the market now that's considered to be safe as well.
The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called Intimacy, Sex and Your Love Life featured Leslie R. Schover, Ph.D., Debra Thaler-DeMers, R.N., O.C.N., P.H.N., and Marisa Weiss, M.D. answering your questions about how to improve your sex life during and after breast cancer treatment.
Editor's Note: This conference took place in February 2002.
The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.
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