November, is known as men’s health awareness month. With the increasing cases of testicular cancer many people are faced with an important decision regarding their future. The impact of cancer treatments on fertility has affected many who have undergone treatment or are preparing to in the future. It is important to highlight the difficulties experience by those who are diagnosed with cancer as many survivors are clinically unable to have children post treatment. Despite this, fertility preservation technologies have allowed many people to overcome these barriers giving them the capacity for future parenthood. Testicular cancer is the most common tumour in men between the ages of 15 and 35. Each year in the UK roughly 2,300 men are diagnosed with testicular cancer.
How does Cancer treatment affect fertility?
Cancer treatment can have a significant impact on fertility, depending on the type of treatment and the individual’s age and overall health. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy can damage the sperm, leading to infertility. The impact on fertility depends on the specific drugs used, the dosage, and the duration of treatment, and in the case of radiotherapy the distance from reproductive organs
Additionally surgical removal of testicles, as a result of cancer, can result in infertility. Surgeries that involve the removal of certain tumours may also affect fertility if they damage nearby reproductive organs.
How can I preserve my fertility before Cancer treatment?
The process of preserving semen samples is relatively simple and does not require a lengthy period of time like ovarian stimulation for women. It is important for healthcare professionals to inform patients about the consequences of cancer treatments on fertility and the options available for preserving their reproductive capacity. Ideally, an initial semen sample should be collected and analysed to determine its quality, and additional samples can be frozen at intervals of 2 to 5 days.
What is the outcome of Fertility Preservation?
Once the patient has recovered and decides to use their preserved semen sample, the choice of reproductive technique will depend on the quantity and quality of the sample. Survival rates after thawing are generally high enough to carry out assisted reproductive techniques, with results similar to those using fresh samples. There is no time limitation for freezing semen, allowing it to remain preserved for as long as necessary.
From a psychological perspective, having the goal of becoming a father after cancer can provide patients with a positive outlook and exciting projects for the future. Therefore, it is crucial for healthcare professionals to inform patients about the possibility of preserving their fertility before starting cancer treatment.
What is the process of fertility treatment after cancer treatment ?
IVF is a widely used assisted reproductive technique that involves fertilizing eggs with sperm in a laboratory setting. In cases where sperm is present but of lower quality, IVF can help overcome fertility challenges. The fertilized embryos are then transferred to the uterus for implantation. ICSI is a specialized form of IVF that is particularly beneficial for individuals with severe male factor infertility. It involves injecting a single sperm directly into an egg to facilitate fertilization. This technique can be used when sperm quality or quantity is compromised. For individuals who are unable to produce viable sperm, the option of using donor sperm can be considered. Donor sperm can be used in conjunction with IVF or ICSI to achieve pregnancy
On the occasion of Movember, experts in assisted reproduction emphasize the importance of informing testicular cancer patients about the option of preserving their reproductive capacity. This allows them to have the possibility of having their own offspring in the future and provides them with hope and motivation during their cancer journey. It is recommended for patients to seek consultation as soon as possible to fulfill their dreams of parenthood once they have recovered.