3 Ways for Men with Cancer to Still Have Children
Chemotherapy is a cancer treatment that can have side effects on male fertility. This condition makes sufferers unable to have children. However, is there a way for men with cancer to have children? Check out the full explanation below.
Side Effects of Chemotherapy on Male Fertility
Chemotherapy is a cancer treatment that uses drugs to kill rapidly dividing cancer cells.
Because sperm cells divide rapidly, they are subject to damage from chemotherapy. Permanent infertility can occur if all the immature cells in the testes divide to make new sperm (spermatogonial stem cells) can be damaged so that they are no longer able to produce mature sperm cells.
After chemotherapy, sperm production slows down or may stop altogether. Even so, some sperm production may return, but it can take years, and sometimes it doesn’t return at all.
In addition to killing cancer cells, drugs in chemotherapy have other effects that interfere with male fertility, including:
- Damaging sperm. This is because sperm also divides quickly. As a result, sperm cells are also killed by chemotherapy drugs. Damage to sperm cells can reduce male fertility and ultimately reduce the chances of having children.
- Damage to germ cells. Chemotherapy can damage germ cells (germ cells), which are cells that will develop and form sperm in men.
- Inhibits testosterone production. Drugs used for chemotherapy also cause the cessation of testosterone production, the main male sex hormone produced by the testes.
- Other side effects. Chemotherapy can also damage the nerves and blood vessels in the pelvic area so that men experience erectile dysfunction, which can interfere with male fertility.
Other cancer treatments can also harm the reproductive organs and glands that control male fertility, including:
- Hormone therapy.
- Radiation therapy.
- Stem cell transplant.
You need to know, there are various types of cancer that often occur in men, including: prostate cancer, testicular cancer, lung cancer, blood cancer (leukemia), and liver cancer.
Also Read: Chemotherapy: How it Works, Benefits, and Side Effects
Ways for Men with Cancer to Have Offspring
Here are some ways to maintain male fertility with cancer, including:
1. Anti Radiation Shield
The first way that can be done is to use an anti-radiation shield. During cancer treatments such as radiotherapy, small lead shields are placed over the testicles to reduce radiation exposure. This is necessary to prevent tissue damage to the testicles.
2. Sperm Cryopreservation
If the use of the shield cannot be done because the location of the cancer has already been reached, men are advised to collect their sperm first with a sperm cryopreservation procedure. This procedure involves freezing and storing sperm.
Sperm storage can be done at a sperm bank or fertility clinic for later use. Frozen sperm samples can be stored for years.
When the pregnancy program begins, sperm can be used to fertilize the egg inside the woman’s body or outside the woman’s body (IVF program).
Also Read: Causes of Infertility in Men and Women to Watch Out for
3. Freezing of Testicular Network
Another way for men with cancer to have children is by freezing testicular tissue. This method is done to anticipate testicular damage so that when needed it can be thawed first.
Freezing testicular tissue can be done in boys who have not yet gone through puberty. This is useful for saving future infertility treatment.
This procedure is performed by removing the tissue containing sperm-producing cells from the testes through a small incision (cut) then freezing and storing.
Nowthose are some ways that men can still get offspring even though they are undergoing therapy for cancer treatment.
- Anonymous. 2020. Fertility Issues in Boys and Men with Cancer. https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/side-effects/fertility-men. (Accessed February 24, 2023)
- Anonymous. 2022. Fertility preservation: Understand your options before cancer treatmentt. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/getting-pregnant/in-depth/fertility-preservation/art-20047512. (Accessed February 24, 2023)
- Anonymous. How Does Chemotherapy Affect Male Fertility?. https://www.novaivffertility.com/fertility-help/how-does-chemotherapy-affect-male-fertility. (Accessed February 24, 2023)
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