How Does Chemotherapy Affect Male Fertility?

How Does Chemotherapy Affect Male Fertility?

There is a strong connection between male fertility and cancer or more often cancer treatments. It can adversely affect your reproductive process and thus affect your ability to father a child. Each treatment has its own effect and consequences. Here, let's discuss the effect of chemotherapy on male fertility.

Chemotherapy and Male Fertility

Men reach puberty at the age of 12 to 14 years. At this age, the testicles produce sperms and this continues for the rest of their lives. If a child suffers from cancer and gets exposed to its treatment, then his reproductive organ, as well as the process, gets adversely affected. Men above the age of 40 pose the similar risk. It becomes difficult to reverse the effect of chemotherapy on their fertility.

In chemotherapy, the body cells that multiply fast get killed. Sperm cells being one of them also become an easy target of this drug therapy. Some drugs cause low mobility of sperm cells, while some can totally hinder the production of sperm inside the testicles. And, that's how chemotherapy causes male infertility. These effects may not be permanent. Once the chemotherapy is completed, it may take from months to years to recover the previous fertility.

The Effect of Chemotherapy on Male Fertility Depends On

  • The type of drugs
  • The dose of drugs
  • The duration of treatment
  • The patient's age

Chemotherapy Drugs that can Cause Male Infertility

A group of chemotherapeutic drugs called alkylating agents can badly affect sperm production in one's body. The other classes of drugs are considered less hostile to sperm cell production, but again it depends on their combination with other drugs.

  • Actinomycin D
  • Busulfan
  • Carboplatin
  • Carmustine
  • Chlorambucil
  • Cisplatin
  • Cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan®)
  • Cytarabine
  • Ifosfamide
  • Lomustine
  • Melphalan
  • Nitrogen mustard (mechlorethamine)
  • Procarbazine

Also, the total dose of the chemotherapy drugs used during a treatment determines the extent of the damage caused. Higher the dose, the more damage is caused to the sperm-forming cells. But sometimes, an even low dose of a combination of drugs can also cause a severe effect on sperm production as well.

Fertility Preservation Options

There are various types of options available to preserve one's fertility. Some of them are:

  • Sperm banking
  • Testicular sperm extraction (TESE)
  • Testicular tissue freezing

Your doctor can suggest the best available option according to your age, the type of cancer and the specific treatment you are receiving.