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Updated April 2021
Originally Published April 2017
When a man is diagnosed with testicular cancer, providers work quickly to begin treatment. In this fast process, one big concern can move down the list of priorities: fertility, or the ability to have biological children. While men of all ages can have testicular cancer, it is the most common cancer for men in their teens, 20s, and 30s. Men in these age groups may want to have children someday.
Fertility varies for each patient. Cancer treatment can affect fertility, but fertility health returns when treatment ends. For others, the effects are permanent and fertility does not return. It is important to ask your doctor about the impact treatment can have on your fertility before treatment begins.
Fertility in men with testicular cancer can be affected by several things:
- Testicular cancer itself may cause low sperm counts.
- Chemotherapy can harm or kill sperm cells. Chemotherapy kills cells that divide quickly. Like cancer cells, sperm cells divide quickly.
- Chemotherapy can affect nerves needed to get or maintain an erection.
- Radiation aimed at or near the testicles can kill stem cells that produce sperm.
- Surgical procedures may affect nerves involved in ejaculation.
The most common fertility preservation option for men is sperm banking. During this process, men give sperm specimens once or multiple times. Specimens are cryopreserved (frozen) and stored until the man is ready to try to have a baby. Sperm banking is completed within two to three days.
Health insurance does not often cover fertility preservation. However, these resources can help reduce the cost:
Huntsman Cancer Institute patients can also contact the patient navigator for adolescents and young adults (AYAs) for more information. AYA patient navigators provide information and resources to people in their teens, 20s, and 30s who have or had cancer. These resources can help with the broader effects of cancer treatment.
AYA Patient Navigation Team
For more information about fertility or any other cancer topic, contact the Cancer Learning Center at 1-888-424-2100.