spermatozodeCancer treatment has a terrible effect on fertility. When you are diagnosed with cancer, it is important to act quickly as it pertains to fertility preservation. Men who would like to have children in the future are wise to learn all they can about freezing sperm — sooner rather than later.

So how does cancer treatment affect fertility? Simply put, there are certain cancer treatments that can sterilize you, such as removal of testicles. Others, such as chemotherapy and radiation, can also sterilize you or damage the quality of your sperm’s DNA or the quantity you produce. All of these treatments and their effects depend on the location of the cancer, the drugs used to fight it and the field of radiation needed to treat the area. With the exception of testicular removal, the most severe damage to the male reproductive system is radiation treatments to the testicles or chemotherapy drugs that use alkylating agents.

It is essential to preserve your fertility as soon as possible following your diagnosis. This will require conversations between your oncologist, doctor, and fertility specialist and clinic to retain your sperm for future use. One chemotherapy or radiation treatment can cause damage, so it’s best to seek out fertility preservation services before you begin your course.

Sperm cryopreservation is the preferred method for preserving men’s fertility. This means that men will provide semen samples that are then frozen for future use. Most men produce the samples on their own; however, some can have the sperm extracted by a needle directly from the testicles. These sperm can later be thawed for intrauterine insemination or in vitro fertilization.

In some cases, gonadal shielding might be sufficient. This method is best when the treatment area is far from the testicles and employs radiation treatment only. Furthermore, the medical team must agree that shielding your testicles from any “scatter radiation” will be sufficient to preserve the integrity of your sperm for future parenthood.

There is no adverse effect of fertility preservation on your cancer treatment effectiveness provided you act quickly. Experts agree that the only adverse effect would be delaying cancer treatment to preserve fertility. It is for this reason that we advise patients to act quickly to avoid this potential risk.

Cancer treatment is a serious health consideration with many long-reaching health effects. Preserving your fertility is an essential consideration for any cancer patient. For men, freezing sperm for future use remains the best way to ensure that following successful cancer treatment, you can still have the family you always wanted. Be sure to discuss your fertility preservation options with your doctors as soon as possible following your diagnosis.

Sources:

“Freezing sperm improves the chances of fatherhood after treatment for Hodgkin lymphoma.” Medical News Today. 23 Dec 2013: 1. Web. 11 May 2015. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/270381.php

Staff, Mayo Clinic. “Fertility preservation: Understand your options before cancer treatment.” Mayo Clinic. 31 Jan 2013: 1-2. Web. 11 May 2015. <http://www.mayoclinic.org/fertility/