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Chemotherapy: Activity During Treatment

You may have questions about how chemotherapy (chemo) could affect your daily activities . Here are some answers to common questions, and some of the adjustments you may need to make.

Will I still be able to work?

Many people do still work during chemo. If you find you have less energy, you may need to talk with your employer about adjusting your schedule. For instance, it may help if you:

  • Work at home or reduce the number of hours you work.

  • Plan time off that fits best with your treatment cycle.

Man sitting at kitchen table working on laptop computer.
Working from home may be an option.

Should I exercise?

Ask your healthcare provider about starting exercise. It may help you sleep better. It can sometimes even help balance your appetite. It's also good for your sense of well-being. Make sure to:

  • Exercise when you feel most energetic.

  • Build your level of activity slowly, even if you were active before treatment.

  • Keep the pace moderate. Even small amounts of exercise can help. Instead of jogging, walk or ride a stationary bike.

  • Drink fluids to stay well-hydrated. And eat nutritious foods.

Will chemo affect my sex life?

Chemo can cause sexual changes in men and women, such as:

  • Changes in your desire to have sex. Hugging and cuddling may seem more important now.

  • Short-term or lasting (permanent) infertility. Talk with your healthcare provider if you plan to have children. Men may want to bank, or freeze, sperm before starting chemo. There are fertility-preserving options for women as well. Talk with your healthcare team before you start treatment.

  • Need for birth control. Most chemo medicines can cause birth defects if taken during pregnancy. Chemo can also cause damage to sperm. Ask your healthcare provider if you need to use birth control during treatment.

Online Medical Reviewer: L Renee Watson MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Rita Sather RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Todd Gersten MD
Date Last Reviewed: 9/1/2021
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