Infertility in males

What is infertility in males?

Male infertility is a health issue that lowers the chances of his female partner getting pregnant. Many cancer treatments can cause infertility in males. Your doctor will explain to you whether or not cancer treatment may lower fertility or cause infertility.

How bad is infertility in males?
Infertility in males

Mild to moderate: Problems with sexual function, pain in testicle area; infertility is reversible

Severe: No sperms in semen; infertility is irreversible

How to manage infertility in males?
  • Sperm banking is collecting and storing the sperm. It helps to father a child through fertility treatment. Store the sperm before you start treatment if there is a risk that treatment will affect fertility. A specialist clinic can store the sperm for many years
  • Testicular-tissue freezing happens before cancer treatment. It is for boys who have not been through puberty. The procedure involves removing, freezing, and storing testicular tissue. This tissue has stem cells that may later become sperm.
  • Testicular shielding is a procedure in which a protective cover shields the testicles from scatter radiation to the pelvis when other body-parts are recieving radiation.
  • Testicular sperm extraction (TESE) is a procedure for males who are unable to produce a semen sample. A medical procedure helps to collect and freeze the sperms for future use.
When to see a doctor?

Any male experiencing signs of infertility and who has been trying to conceive for more than a year (or 6 months if older than 35 years of age) should consult a doctor for a thorough diagnosis.

Sometimes there may be simple ways to make lifestyle adjustments to improve fertility, while other underlying causes may require treatment.

What causes infertility in males? 

Cancer treatments may harm reproductive organs and glands.

  • Chemotherapy can damage sperm in men and sperm-forming cells in young boys.
  • Hormone therapy can decrease the production of sperm.
  • Radiation therapy to the reproductive organs as well as near the abdominal area may lower sperm counts and testosterone levels, causing infertility.
  • Surgery for cancers of the reproductive organs and for pelvic cancers (such as bladder, colon, prostate, and rectal cancer) can damage these organs leading to infertility.
  • Stem cell transplants involve high doses of chemotherapy and/or radiation which can damage sperm and sperm-forming cells.
  • Other treatments (immunotherapy and targeted cancer therapy) may affect male fertility.

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