Awkward Auntie Question No. 12

question-no-12

Ever had a question about relationships or sex that you just can’t ask your oncology care provider?  Ever felt too shy to ask a nurse or doctor a question but really need the answer?  Now you can ask those questions and get answers from Dr. Anne Katz, the Awkward Auntie!

Question: How can I have a family after a hysterectomy? Why would anyone even want to marry me if I can’t have a baby?

Awkward Auntie: The desire to have biological children is very real and one that many young adults say is important for so many reasons. Having had a hysterectomy (removal of the uterus/womb) means that you cannot carry a pregnancy BUT if you still have ovaries, you may be able to have a biological child using your eggs and your partner’s sperm. Another woman (called a gestational surrogate) would then carry the pregnancy and after the baby is born, he/she would live with you and your partner (or you alone if you choose to do this by yourself) and is your very own child. This sounds so simple but of course, it is way more complicated.

Firstly, it is expensive, very expensive. You have to find a woman who is willing to carry the pregnancy, go through labor etc. A sister, cousin, friend or even your own mother (yes, that has happened!) might be willing. Then you have to either have a partner to provide the sperm or you can buy sperm from an anonymous donor or have a male friend donate sperm. If you don’t have ovaries or eggs, you can buy eggs too. So it’s not impossible….despite there being challenges along the way.

Adoption is also an option and there are many children who are waiting for their ‘forever’ family. Some say that there are so many children in the world that don’t have a home and family so why would we want to bring more children into this world……But I do understand why you would want a biological child.

You also ask a more existential question, however – who would want to marry you if you can’t have a baby? The answer to that is – it all depends on who YOU want to marry! Yes, some men may not want to be with someone who cannot carry ‘their’ baby. That’s not unusual although it is pretty selfish. Men have the same drive to have a biological child as women do. But a person doesn’t fall in love with a uterus – they fall in love and want to start a life with a person (you). Many couples fall in love and plan to start a family and it doesn’t work out. Others don’t want children and never have them. Having a uterus is not a guarantee that it can carry a pregnancy… and having testicles doesn’t mean that there are sperm in there that can do the job!

Treatment for cancer takes away so much… and I hear the pain in your question. You are not defined by the lack of a uterus – but you have to come to terms with what you have lost before you can move forward.

You can learn more about this great program, find the answers to past questions, and submit a question of your own by going here!

More about the Awkward Auntie program:

Dr. Anne Katz, also known as the Awkward Auntie, is a certified sexuality counselor and nurse who has written a couple of books about young adults and cancer – and all the things that happen to your body, relationships, and sex during and after treatment.  She will be answering any and all questions that you send to AwkwardAuntie@lacunaloft.org or that you submit in the form below. You don’t have to give your name or other identifying information – but it might be helpful for her to know how you identify yourself by gender, your age and what kind of cancer and treatment you had.

YOU CAN ASK HER ANYTHING…. Don’t hold back!  Your questions will be answered periodically and posted on our Awkward Auntie page.