Sexual Activity During Chemotherapy

Last Modified: July 15, 2009


Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"
I was diagnosed with colon cancer and am receiving Folfox chemotherapy. Can I have sexual relations with my wife? She is avoiding me with fear [of causing harm to me or herself]. What are the restrictions on sexual activity during treatment?


Gloria DiLullo, MSN, CRNP, OncoLink Medical Oncology Educational Content Specialist, responds:

In terms of sexual activity, if there is any chance of your wife getting pregnant (i.e. she has not yet entered menopause), then you must use contraception and avoid pregnancy while on chemotherapy, as birth defects can occur from the chemotherapy. Some chemotherapy is excreted in a very small amount in semen, especially within 48 hours of treatment. Even if your wife is past child-bearing age, you should use a condom if you have intercourse within 48 hours after your treatment to avoid exposing her to any small amounts of chemotherapy in the semen. You should also know that there is no danger of your wife developing cancer as a result of sexual relations with you. If you have concerns about fertility or sexual function, you should ask your doctor or nurse about how the specific chemotherapy drug(s) you are taking can affect these things.


The Art and Science of Oncology
by Bob Riter
October 01, 2013