Ask the Doctor
October 15, 2013

Can we really have intercourse whilst I am on chemotherapy?

Dear Doc,

I am 35 years old and presently receiving chemotherapy every three weeks for breast cancer. The course will last for a year and I am now six months into it and doing very well. I am married and want to have sexual intercourse, but my husband is afraid that he will cause some unknown damage. I am afraid that I am making him suffer unnecessarily. Can we really have intercourse whilst I am on chemotherapy?{{more}}


Dear Marie-Ann,

I like this question.

First, I must say that I am happy that you are receiving your chemotherapy and that you have a husband who is supportive and interested in your health and well-being.

The truth is that anti–neoplastic chemotherapy is known to cause birth defects and this is usually more evident when the exposure is within the first three months of pregnancy (the first trimester). Pregnancy must be avoided to prevent exposure of the foetus to the chemotherapy. You have started your regimen and have another six months to complete, so a pregnancy during this period most likely will not have a good outcome.

With reference to causing harm to you by having intercourse, that will not be a problem unless otherwise specifically stated by your oncologist. You can have intercourse during chemotherapy for cancer if you are using methods to prevent pregnancy. It is important to note that you must try and maintain a regular lifestyle as much as possible that is within your prescribed limit. If your doctor gives specific requirements it would be for a reason, but you have to be positive.

Being diagnosed with cancer at 35 years will carry strong emotions. You are now in the prime of your life and there will be restrictions to your normal schedules and your expectations.


SVG Cancer Society,

P.O. Box 709, Kingstown.


Phone: 526-7036