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Cancer Treatments and Men's Fertility

Cancer treatments may affect your fertility by:

  • Stopping, or interfering with, the production of sperm in the testes.

  • Affecting the production of testosterone or others hormones involved in male fertility

  • Damaging nerves and blood vessels in the pelvic region, making it difficult to get an erection or ejaculate.

  • The need for surgical removal of the affected testis.

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After treatment, fertility is often described in four ways:

  1. Normal Fertility
    Normal sperm function and count. Many men undergo cancer treatment and are able to father children naturally with no change in their fertility.

  2. Temporary Infertility
    No sperm in the ejaculate. Sperm production may stop for a temporary amount of time. It may return immediately or many years after the cancer treatments end.

  3. Compromised Fertility
    Compromised sperm function and/or count. This can occur due to impaired sperm production, interference with hormone production or damage to the nerves and ducts that carry sperm out of the body. This can make natural conception hard and may require the assistance of fertility doctors.

  4. Permanent Sterility
    No ejaculated sperm. Some men will no longer produce sperm after treatment. There may be low levels of sperm in the testicles that may be used to try to have children with help from a doctor.