Author: Dr. Aparna Vishwakiran, Senior Consultant & Fertility Specialist
Infertility impacts the emotional well-being, relationships, and overall health of the fertility challenged individuals. Men are not exempted from this.
Infertility is one of the major side effects of cancer treatment and other non-malignant disease conditions in males.
Therefore, it is essential for all cancer patients to be aware about the risks and side effects of cancer treatment on their fertility and be educated about available options to preserve fertility in men who might want to have kids in future.
The chemotherapeutic agents and radiation therapy used in the treatment of cancer exposes an individual to a significant risk of infertility as it may alter the function of the testicular cells.
The most preferred technique to preserve fertility in males is sperm freezing.
Sperm cryopreservation is the only proven and effective procedure adopted to preserve fertility in teenage boys and adult men.
Semen sample is collected from the individual before undergoing treatment. The semen sample is tested for sperm motility, count and morphology. These sperms are then frozen and preserved for later use at a sperm bank or fertility centre. The frozen sperm is thawed and used for achieving pregnancy when the couple decides to have a child, with the help of assisted reproductive technologies such as IUI and IVF.
Sperm cryopreservation is not a viable option for pre-pubertal males as they do not produce sperm. Testicular tissue cryopreservation can be done in such cases.
- Non-surgical recovery of sperm:
In men suffering from ejaculation issues and retrograde ejaculation, ejaculation is induced to collect semen. Methods such as penile vibratory stimulation(PVS), electro ejaculation are used to induce ejaculation.
- Surgical recovery of the sperm:
Certain health conditions in males lead to the absence of sperm in their semen, in such situations, sperm extraction and aspiration methods like testicular sperm extraction (TESE), and micro-TESE, etc. are used to collect sperm directly from the testes.
While sperm cryopreservation is a good choice, the options are limited with respect to childhood cancer survivors and it is a long journey for helping men who want to preserve their fertility and have their own biological family.
By identifying your risk for infertility, you can take informed steps prior to the treatment to preserve your fertility.
It is important to know that the chances of achieving a pregnancy are unaffected by fertility preservation techniques. Consult with a fertility specialist/andrologist to know about various fertility preservation options available and to keep your options open about having children later in life after the treatment.