Testicular Cancer and Fertility:
Will I Still Be Able To Have Kids?
BY: JULI AUCLAIR LIPOF
Coping with a diagnosis of Testicular Cancer can be difficult on many levels. There are numerous factors to consider including how to tell your family, choosing the right doctors, medical bills and what treatment option is best.
For many men, the issue of fertility adds another layer of stress and anxiety. Men who are considering starting a family or would like to have more children often fear that chemotherapy, radiation or other treatments will cause infertility.
“How cancer treatment will affect your fertility depends on the type of treatment you get. Fertility effects also depend on other factors, such as the type of cancer, where it is, your age and overall health, and your response to treatment.” ~
Dr. John Norian
I was fortunate to have the chance to ask Dr. John five questions about testicular cancer, fertility, chemotherapy and banking sperm. Here is what he had to say:
Q – Dr. Norian, if a man is diagnosed with Testicular Cancer at the same time as he is trying to start a family, should he consult a fertility specialist before beginning treatment?
Dr. John Norian- “Without a doubt! A brief consultation will inform him about the potential risks of chemotherapy. The most common reason stated as to why a man did not bank sperm prior to treatment for cancer is that he was not told by his doctor about ways to preserve his fertility.”
Q - Do chemotherapy and radiation lower sperm count?
Dr. John Norian-“Yes. Certain chemotherapeutic agents are worse than others. Alkylating agents (such as cyclophosphamide) have greatly improved survival from testicular cancer; however, they greatly decrease sperm counts and can make a man sterile. Radiation can also have a negative impact on testicular function. The amount and location of radiation treatment impact the likelihood of testicular failure, ie., higher doses and total body irradiation are often worse than lower doses of localized treatment.”
Q- Does a diagnosis of Testicular Cancer automatically mean the patient will have fertility problems?
Dr. John Norian -“No. Testicular function may return after treatment, however, again this often depends upon the type and amount of treatment given.”
Q - Can a patient bank sperm at a fertility clinic and how long will it be viable for?
Dr. John Norian- “Current freezing techniques for sperm are very robust. Frozen sperm at a specialized cryobank can last for numerous years.”
According to the website:
“Cryopreserved specimens, when properly stored, will remain viable for an indefinite amount of time. Pregnancies have been reported for cases in which the sperm has been stored for 20 years prior to thawing and insemination.”
Q- Is it possible for a patient to have treatment for Testicular Cancer and not have fertility problems after?
Dr. John Norian - “Yes, but it depends upon the extent of his disease and the amount of treatment needed.”
As Dr. Norian mentioned, be sure to consult your oncologist as well as a fertility specialist to discuss all of your options before beginning treatment for Testicular Cancer. Sperm banking is a way to store sperm that can be used later. If you haven’t decided whether you’d like to start a family, you can store sperm at a cryobank now and make the decision in the future. Planning in advance of treatment increases the odds of preserving fertility.
NotSupermom™is chock-full of parenting advice and tips with a healthy dose of humor! She is also a writer, producer and social media manager. Juli lives in a suburb of New York City, with her husband and two children.