A cancer diagnosis is devastating for most patients. The most common response is to get treatment as quickly as possible. While this response is completely appropriate, it is our job as physicians to counsel patients about the risk and benefits of lifesaving cancer therapy. As urologists, a major concern is the risk cancer treatment poses to male fertility.
Our goal is to help men understand their risk and preserve their fertility prior to treatment in a timely fashion.
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What Are My Risks?
Calculating an exact risk of infertility following cancer treatment is very complicated and difficult to accurately predict. This is because risk to fertility depends on the type of treatment, duration of treatment, and drug dosage. Certain chemotherapy regimens are higher risk than others and the same applies to radiation and surgery.
The bottom line: preserving sperm is an insurance package. Hopefully, they will not need it, but if they do it becomes priceless.
How Do I Preserve My Fertility?
Fertility preservation is usually done through a sperm bank. This can be done on site at local sperm banks or from home using a remote kit. If doing from home, there is a special preservative media, and the package is shipped overnight to a permanent storage facility. This needs to be done prior to starting cancer treatment.
How Do I Get An Appointment?
Please call our office 318-683-0411 Ext 178. We have nurses that help get this process started for you. The sooner that we know about the situation the better. Sometimes we may set up sperm freezing prior to coming to the office. This greatly depends on timeline for starting cancer treatment.
What If My Fertility Does Not Return?
Fertility options after cancer therapy depend on a variety of factors. If you have sperm frozen then you will have options down the line. The more sperm that you can freeze prior to cancer treatment, the better those options down the line.
Remember, most men will recover their fertility.
How Long Can Sperm Be Frozen?
Several reports have shown that frozen sperm may be used 20-30 years later with excellent results.
When Can We Start Trying for a Pregnancy?
We advise most couples to have protected sex for at least 1 year after finishing chemotherapy. At this time, most experts feel that the risk of having a child with genetic defects returns to baseline or pre-treatment levels after one year.
When Should I Follow Up After Freezing Sperm?
We like to see men for a follow up visit 6 months after finishing treatment for hormone levels and semen parameters.