Fertility and sexual function in female Hodgkin lymphoma survivors of reproductive age



Aims and objectives

To assess the perceived fertility status and to determine the association between perceived fertility status and sexual function, as reported by young female Hodgkin lymphoma survivors.


Young female Hodgkin lymphoma survivors are at risk of infertility and impaired sexual function. However, little is known about their awareness of infertility and its association with sexual functioning.


A descriptive questionnaire survey.


In this cross-sectional study, a survey was completed by female Hodgkin lymphoma survivors (< 40 years). Outcome measures included self-reported fertility status and sexual problems and the internationally validated Female Sexual Function Index.


In total, 36 survivors were included (mean age 32 years, SD 4). Eighteen women (50%) thought themselves fertile. Eight survivors (22%) who perceived themselves as being infertile were more often treated with alkylator-based chemotherapy, and 63% reported sexual dysfunction. Ten survivors (28%) were not aware as to whether they were fertile or not; seven of these would like to have children. The reported fertility status was related to age and chemotherapy regimen. Regarding sexuality, 14 (39%) of the female Hodgkin lymphoma survivors reported one or more sexual problem and none reported recovery. Female sexual dysfunction according to the Female Sexual Function Index was reported by 11 (31%) survivors.


Almost 30% of Hodgkin lymphoma survivors do not know whether they are fertile or not. Overall sexual dysfunction is common in Hodgkin lymphoma survivors and comparable to the general population. However, a lack of desire was significantly more often reported in female Hodgkin lymphoma survivors.

Relevance to clinical practice

To prevent assumed infertility and unintended childlessness by postponing parenthood in young female survivors, awareness of fertility status is needed. There is also a need to routinely assess sexual function and provide adequate interventions to improve arousal and lubrication problems.