Male Reproductive Medicine and Surgery Program

Fertility Preservation

Fertility Preservation

Approximately 44 percent of all men face a cancer diagnosis in their lifetime. As treatment for cancers continues to improve, patient survival is increasing as well as knowledge of impacts that cancer and its treatment can have on a manís fertility. Chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and surgery can all impact normal reproductive function. In fact, male survivors of childhood cancer have an approximately 50 percent reduction in successfully conceiving after treatment.

In addition to patients with cancer, other men/boys also face decisions about fertility preservation.  Men/boys to undergo stem cell transplantation for hematologic disorders (e.g. thalassemia, sickle cell anemia), immunodeficiencies, severe autoimmune diseases, systemic lupus erythematosus, enzyme deficiencies often consider fertility preservation.  In addition, men/boys at risk for testicular degeneration such as Klinefelter syndrome may also consider fertility preservation.

Prior to therapy

Sperm cryopreservation remains the gold standard for fertility preservation in those who can produce a sample.  For those who are unable due to illness, nerve injury, anxiety, or inexperience; our physicians are experts in assisted ejaculation techniques to help harvest sperm.  In addition, certain men will not produce sperm in their ejaculate due to illness yet may have sperm in their testicle (see Azoospermia). In such cases, sperm extraction techniques can be utilized prior to treatment.

After therapy

In general, sperm should not used for 1 year after chemotherapy due concerns for about genetic damage caused by treatment.  If sperm counts return, they can be used for unassisted or assisted conception. 

If no sperm count returns and azoospermia persists, the patient is often a candidate for a sperm microsurgical extraction procedure to attempt to find a few pockets of remaining, normal sperm production which can be used with assisted technologies to achieve a pregnancy.

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