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Does my reproductive history affect my chances of developing ovarian cancer?

Yes, a woman's likelihood of developing ovarian cancer can increase or decrease depending on her reproductive history. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, women who have never given birth may be at increased risk of developing cancer of the ovary. Women who have experienced difficulty in trying to become pregnant may also be at a higher risk than women who have had children without any complications.

For women who have had children, the risk of ovarian cancer actually goes down with each pregnancy and may be reduced further if the woman is breast-feeding. This has been linked to the fact that the ability to breast feed coincides with the lowering of estrogen and progesterone hormone levels.

For women who have never had children, the use of oral contraceptives, more commonly referred to as birth control pills, for at least five years, can significantly reduce a woman's risk of ovarian cancer.