How Can Cancer Affect Male Fertility?
Thanks to today’s ever improving medical treatments, cancer is not the killer it use to be. However, cancer can still have a major impact on a man’s ability to father children. Not only can cancer affect a man’s fertility directly, as in the case of testicular cancer, but the treatment to cure cancer can also have a detrimental effect on your ability to father children.
Cancer Near or On Your Reproductive Organs
Surgery to remove tumours near your reproductive organs can cause damage and blockages to the delicate reproductive system. In more serious cases, surgery may have to remove the sperm producing testicles or the semen producing prostate gland.
Chemotherapy is highly toxic and can damage or destroy the sperm producing cells. The cancer doesn’t even need to be near your reproductive organs for the chemotherapy to affect your fertility.
Radiotherapy can expose your sperm producing cells to mutations. Though the effects are rarely permanent, some experts recommend you do not try for children for up to two years after you have received a course of radiotherapy. This is to make sure the children you father don’t have abnormalities.
Because of the way they work to kill cancer cells, many anti-cancer drugs have a side-effect of causing sterilisation.
What Are the Chances of Getting Cancer?
The probability of you getting cancer before the age of 45 (the age at which most men have already fathered children) is thankfully very low and if you should contract if before that age, the chances of a successful cure are high.
But don’t take any chances with cancer, if you think you might have it, see your doctor immediately, because the sooner you are diagnosed with it, the higher the chances of curing it.
Treatment for Cancer Related Infertility?
If you should ever be unfortunate enough to develop cancer, before you proceed with treatment, advise your cancer specialist that you wish to have children in the future. Your specialist can then advise you of the specific fertility risks with your type of cancer and the treatment for it. If appropriate they may suggest you have your sperm cryogenically frozen before you receive any treatment.
If you have already had cancer and have recovered, make an appointment to see your doctor after six months of trying for baby without success. They will give you advice and send you for tests specific to your situation.
Cancer Associated Fertility Problems
If you have had cancer, you may also want to read the following sections on associated problems:
- Ejaculatory Duct Obstruction – Surgery to cure cancer can sometimes damage the delicate tubes sperm travel along, reduced the amount of sperm in each ejaculate
- Immune Response to Sperm – Sometimes cancer treatment can cause an immune response to sperm that last even after the cancer has been successfully treated