Chemotherapy, radiation therapy and some surgeries can reduce or stop sperm production, diminishing the ability to father a child. Removal of one or both testicles, radiation, chemotherapy and hormone therapy for prostate cancer can also cause low testosterone. Short-term effects of low testosterone include a reduced sex drive, poor erections, low sperm count and low energy. Over the long term, low testosterone can cause serious health problems, such as a loss of muscle mass, osteoporosis, depression and increased body fat.
Some men may not feel comfortable bringing up fertility issues with their doctor, while others may not be aware of their options. Many men later regret not considering fertility issues prior to starting cancer treatment.
Despite the risks associated with some cancer treatments, there is help available to men who wish to preserve their fertility. Male fertility-sparing treatments include sperm banking before treatment, testicular sperm extraction, or shielding the testicles during radiation therapy. While success rates vary by treatment, advanced fertility treatments are promising, and many men who’ve had cancer treatment go on to have children.
In honor of Men’s Health Month this June, The Hormone Foundation and the Oncofertility Consortium are raising awareness about fertility preservation options for male cancer patients and educating them about the effects of cancer treatment on hormonal health. SaveMyFertility.org, provides all cancer patients, including the parents of diagnosed children, the information they need to have a better, more comprehensive dialogue with their physicians about fertility preservation and long-term well-being.
Visit www.SaveMyFertility.org to learn more about fertility treatments, doctors who provide them, and resources available to cancer patients.