Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Are there risks to not being pregnant?"
I never want to have kids, and I never will. But I have heard from friends that not ever being pregnant does increase your risk of getting some kinds of cancer. Is this true? How does it weigh against the risks of pregnancy?
Obviously deciding whether or not you want to have kids is a big decision not be taken lightly. It sounds like you have though this through and have decided that you would not like to have children. As a physician, I support that decision. With that said, your friends are correct. Breast cancer, endometrial cancer (uterine cancer), and ovarian cancer are all more common in women that are nulliparous (meaning have never been pregnant). This increase risk has been shown definitively in multiple studies. However, the overall risk isn't changed that much and thus, I would never advise anyone to have kids specifically to reduce their risk of cancer. If you decide to have kids, it should be because you want kids, not because you want to reduce your risk of these cancers by a small amount. I suggest that you schedule an appointment with your primary care physician. He or she can discuss your past medical history, family history, and perhaps some of your other risk factors other than nulliparity that you need to consider. If you are at all on the fence about having kids, then I suggest you get a referral to a medical geneticist who can present you with detailed information about your cancer risks so that you can make the most informed decision possible.
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