Certain cancers and their treatments can lead to male infertility.
If you are undergoing cancer treatment, fertility preservation may be an option that can help you save your fertility.
Fertility preservation is the procedure used to protect eggs, sperm, or reproductive tissue so that a person can use them to have children in the future.
Here’s a guide to help you understand how cancer treatment can cause male infertility and what you can do to preserve it.
How can cancer treatment lead to male infertility?
Cancer treatments are essential, but they can harm your reproductive organs and glands that control your fertility. Fertility changes can be temporary or permanent, depending on:
- Your fertility baseline
- Your age at the time of treatment
- The type of cancer and treatment
- The duration of your treatment
- Other personal health factors
Consult a doctor about your treatment(s) to learn what to expect:
- Chemotherapy, especially alkylating drugs, can harm men’s sperm and young boys’ sperm-forming cells (germ cells).
- Hormone therapy, also known as endocrine therapy, can reduce sperm production.
- Radiation therapy to the reproductive organs or areas near the abdomen, pelvis, or spine can reduce sperm counts and testosterone levels, resulting in male infertility. It can kill sperm cells and the stem cells that produce sperm. Brain radiation therapy can harm the pituitary gland, which regulates testosterone and sperm production.
- Surgery for reproductive organ and pelvic cancers (such as bladder, colon, prostate, and rectal cancer) can damage these organs and nearby nerves or lymph nodes in the pelvis, resulting in male infertility.
- Stem cell transplants, such as bone marrow transplants and peripheral blood stem cell transplants, include high doses of chemotherapy or radiation. These treatments can harm sperm and sperm-forming cells.
When to see a doctor?
Infertility can be upsetting long-term effects of cancer treatment for some men. Although thinking about your fertility may feel overwhelming, most people benefit from talking with their doctor about how treatment may affect them and learning about options to preserve their fertility.
Consider asking questions like:
- Could treatment increase the risk of infertility or cause it?
- Are there any other cancer treatments that may not lead to infertility issues?
- Does the age, type of cancer, and specific treatment affect fertility preservation?
- Which fertility preservation methods do you recommend for me?
- What are my chances of regaining fertility after treatment?
You can make an appointment at Apollo Fertility. Our team of specialists provides excellent medical services as well as the emotional support you require while undergoing fertility preservation.
Fertility preservation options for males with cancer
Male patients with cancer have several options to preserve their fertility:
- Sperm freezing
Sperm freezing, also known as sperm cryopreservation, is the most common option for young men of reproductive age who want to have children one day.
The procedure entails collecting sperm samples and examining them under a microscope in the laboratory. The collected sperm is frozen and stored for future use.
- Testicular sperm extraction (TESE)
TESE is a procedure for males who cannot produce a sperm sample. Sperm is collected using a medical procedure and frozen for future use.
- Testicular tissue freezing
Testicular tissue freezing (or testicular tissue cryopreservation) is an experimental procedure for boys who have not reached puberty and are at high risk of infertility.
This procedure involves surgically removing some sperm-producing tissue and freezing and preserving it for future use.
- Testicular shielding
Testicular shielding is a procedure used to prevent testicular damage during radiation therapy. During the procedure, a protective shield is placed over the scrotum (the external sac that contains the testicles) when other body parts are being treated.