Fighting cancer takes a toll on the body. Specific cancer treatments may even leave some men unable to father biological children. Before undergoing any cancer treatment, men should identify their risk for infertility based on the cancer type and treatment plan. There are many paths to parenthood, but it’s important to explore all fertility options before preparing to undergo cancer treatment. Learn why male fertility preservation matters and how sperm banking could be the right method to explore.
Why does male fertility preservation matter?
The aspects of cancer treatment, such as alkylating chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery, make some men unable to father children. Cancer treatment is what damages male fertility, not cancer itself. Men with infertility are unable to either produce healthy sperm or ejaculate sperm. Before undergoing cancer treatment, men should discuss the risks of infertility with their doctors. While sperm production typically recovers after cancer treatment, there’s no guarantee that chemotherapy or radiation won’t cause genetic damage to sperm cells. Men who do recover sperm production usually see an improvement in semen analysis within one to three years after completing cancer treatment.
Some cancer surgeries, such as surgery for prostate or bladder cancer, remove organs and nerves vital to reproduction, and some treatments could change hormone levels or damage sperm’s DNA. Cancer treatment could cause sperm-related problems that affect the health of a pregnancy. If a father conceived a child with DNA-damaged sperm, the child would inherit the abnormal DNA and possibly be born with congenital disorders.
Your cancer care team should bring up the topic of fertility and any issues you may face due to cancer treatment before undergoing any surgery or procedures. You will need to speak with a reproductive specialist to explore all options.
Preserving male fertility is essential if you hope to be a biological father someday. New treatments may prove to be as effective as conventional treatments but with less potential risk for long-term problems such as infertility. Regional Cancer Care Associates offers several types of clinical trials to study participants diagnosed with cancer. Participating in clinical trials gives cancer patients new ways of approaching treatment that may prove more successful than the standard treatment.
Sperm Collecting and Banking
An easy and successful way for men to preserve fertility is sperm banking. With this method, men store their sperm before beginning cancer treatment if they have hopes of future parenthood. Storing healthy sperm for future use gives you options when the time comes to start a family. Make an appointment to speak with a reproductive urologist about the potential benefits of sperm banking and other ways to preserve male fertility.
Most sperm banks work with a local laboratory that runs specific laboratory tests on semen samples and sends them to long-term storage.
If semen analysis reveals that it’s not possible to father a child, sperm donation can help you achieve parenthood. PFCLA helps patients find a sperm donor, facilitate sperm donation, and assist in the insemination process. Infertility due to lack of sperm, low sperm count, or low sperm motility can be overcome with the help of donor sperm. LGBTQ couples and single women undergoing IVF can also benefit from donor sperm. To donate sperm Los Angeles, find an egg donor, or undergo embryo freezing, visit Pacific Fertility Center Los Angeles at 10921 Wilshire Blvd Ste 700, Los Angeles, CA 90024, or contact them at (310) 209-7700.
Sperm banking requires one or more semen samples to be tested by a sperm bank for sperm count, motility (swimming sperm), and morphology (standard shape). Once the specialists test the sperm, it is frozen and can be kept stored for 20-30 years. Semen samples can be produced at a sperm bank or at home using a kit provided by the sperm bank. Masturbation is commonly done in a private setting at a sperm bank to collect semen samples. Men who are unable to ejaculate due to age or mental health problems undergo an electroejaculation procedure to collect a sample. Men who experience retrograde ejaculation can have sperm collected from urine by a fertility specialist.
Most health care providers don’t provide coverage for semen analysis and sperm banking. However, sperm banks usually offer monthly payment plans to help ease the cost.
Talk to your cancer care team about all of your fertility concerns and secure your future dreams of parenthood before treatment begins.