Answer to Question #11869 Submitted to "Ask the Experts"
The following question was answered by an expert in the appropriate field:
I have received several dozen abdominal x rays. My doctors said that because of this, getting pregnant would be a challenge. Is this true?
Based on current scientific information, it doesn't seem likely that the x rays you received would cause an issue if you are trying to get pregnant.
The radiation dose from an abdominal x ray is pretty small, and the dose to the ovaries from an abdominal x ray is even smaller since the other tissues in your abdomen absorb a lot of the x rays before they get to the ovaries.
Based on published information (Mettler and Upton 1995, Wagner et al. 1997), you would need to undergo, at a minimum, 6,000 abdominal x rays before there might be reduced ovarian function; another estimate suggests it would take nearly 10 times that. It takes a significant amount of radiation to cause ovarian impairment.
It is not likely that the radiation to the ovaries from a few dozen abdominal x rays could make getting pregnant a challenge.
Certified Medical Health Physicist
Mettler FA, Upton AC. Medical effects of ionizing radiation. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: W.B. Saunders Company; 1995.
Wagner LK, Lester RG, Saldana LR. Exposure of the pregnant patient to diagnostic radiations. 2nd ed. Madison, WI: Medical Physics Publishing; 1997.