Almost 50% of cancer survivors desire children after the treatment. Out of these, 75% are usually childless at the time of diagnosis. These statistics have pushed experts to design various programs for cancer patients patients to preserve their fertility.
This article will discuss the solution for preserving male fertility in cancer patients: sperm freezing.
Why Is Sperm Freezing For Cancer Patients Important?
Below are two key reasons why sperm freezing for cancer patients is important:
- Cancer and its treatment options have detrimental impacts on sperm health. These impacts can be either temporary or permanent, depending on a number of factors, and can lead difficulties in achieving pregnancy. Various treatments also have impact on male fertility, which is why it is logical to perform the sperm banking process before treatment starts.
- The rebound time for temporary male infertility can be up to 9 years. Although newer drugs may reduce it to 9 to 24 months
Malignant Disease Impact on Male Fertility
Malignancy is the excessive proliferation of cells in your body. As a result, your body loses control over the organ with cancer.
Tumor formation impacts male fertility due to the following changes:
- Tumor growth brings hormonal defects with it. The hormonal disruption interferes with the secretion of testosterone and other androgens in your body. This alteration leads to a decline in spermatogenesis and structural defects in sperm.
- Cancer happens due to mutation in your genetic makeup. It disrupts DNA in your body, and this effect can extend to sperm as well. Male sperm cells have chromatin or genetic material in their heads. The malignant disease damages this DNA and leads to unsuccessful fertilization or loss of pregnancy.
- Your body responds to the tumor by activating your immune system. It secretes antibodies in semen that attack sperm cells.
- Cancer cells increase energy consumption. Extra cells eat up nutrients in your body, and since vitamins and minerals are crucial for sperm formation, malignancy leads to male infertility.
- Testicular cancer breaks down the manufacturing unit of spermatogenesis. It not only damages local testicular surroundings but also reduces testosterone secretion. Both these changes collectively lead to infertility.
Cancer Treatments Impact on Male Fertility
The primary treatments available for cancer these days are surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. All three have can impact male fertility.
- Surgery in the case of testicular cancer, results in a 50% decline in sperm concentration. The ability of testes to perform adequate spermatogenesis also decreases.
- Radiation for any cancer causes fragmentation of DNA, which may continue up to 2 years after the treatment. It also destroys sperm cells and leads to azoospermia.
- Chemotherapy reduces sperm count and results in prolonged defects in the structure. It also interferes with sperm motility.
How Long Do Chemotherapy or Other Treatments Affect Sperm?
The severity is variable depends on the dose, duration, and potency of treatment. For instance, radiation at smaller doses may only cause temporary azoospermia. But at higher doses, it can lead to irreversible fertility loss.
Similarly, the regain time is also flexible. At low doses of chemotherapy and radiation, spermatogenesis rebounds within a year. However, for some chemotherapy drugs and potent doses of radiation, it takes up to eight years.
The experts agree that you should not conceive for at least two years after chemotherapy because your sperm DNA is likely to be defective. It can transfer to offspring and cause birth defects or result in miscarriages.
Sperm Banking For Cancer Patients
Sperm freezing is a method to ensure the possibility of paternity. For cancer patients, it is slightly different from normal individuals.
Take your time educating about it before making a decision.
When Should I Undergo Sperm Preservation Process?
Once the chemotherapy starts, the sperm quality declines rapidly. These sperm cells cannot be trusted to produce healthy offspring in the future. So, the appropriate time for sperm freezing is before the treatment begins.
Even before therapy, cancer takes its toll on spermatogenesis. To ensure the storage of capable and robust sperm, you need to undergo sperm analysis testing. This test gives an idea about sperm quality, motility, and total count.
Does Sperm Freezing In Cancer Patients Affect Sperm Quality?
The problems may arise in collecting adequate healthy sperm or gaining a sample. However, once sperm go into the bank, the process is no different from the standard method. The freezing or thawing does not interfere with sperm quality for cancer patients.
In any case, a semen analysis test is imperative before sperm freezing. It allows you to test your sperm quality before freezing.
This information is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Dadi Inc. makes no representation and assumes no responsibility for the accuracy of information contained herein, and such information is subject to change without notice. You are encouraged to confirm any information obtained from or through this web site or article with other sources, and review all information regarding any medical condition or treatment with your physician.
- Dohle GR. Male infertility in cancer patients: Review of the literature. Int J Urol. 2010 Apr;17(4):327–31.
- Vakalopoulos I, Dimou P, Anagnostou I, Zeginiadou T. Impact of cancer and cancer treatment on male fertility. Hormones (Athens). 2015 Oct-Dec;14(4):579–89.
- Williams, Daniel H. “Sperm banking and the cancer patient.” Therapeutic advances in urology vol. 2,1 (2010): 19–34.