Fertility preservation for male cancer patients

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It’s possible that chemotherapy drugs or radiotherapy may have an adverse effect on sperm. This temporary, or sometimes permanent, effect may make it more difficult to become a parent. The likelihood of damage to sperm production depends on the exact nature and dose of the cancer treatment, and it’s often not possible to predict the results. Whatever the treatment, most men will generally still produce semen (fluid) in their ejaculate, but there is a chance there will be no sperm present.

Freezing semen (semen cryostorage)

The aim of freezing and storing semen before chemotherapy or radiotherapy is to offer future fertility assurance – a potential back up in case the treatment does affect sperm production. If sperm function recovers after treatment the stored samples can be discarded.

What happens if I opt to store semen?

The first step is to discuss your individual situation with one of our fertility specialist at Westmead Fertility Centre.  You will require laboratory appointments to store the semen. Our team will carry out an assessment of the sperm in the sample you provide and freeze the sample. Ideally, you should store more than one sample. To optimise the quality of the samples, abstaining from intercourse or ejaculation for at least two days prior to each sample collection is recommended.

How long can the sample be stored for?

The sample can be stored for as long as you need. However, we do need you to contact us after 12 months, and every year after that in order to let us know that continued storage is required. You will also need to inform us if you change your address.

What happens if I want to use the stored sperm sample later?

To use your stored semen to try to achieve a pregnancy, it will firstly need to be thawed. Then, it can be used in one of two ways: assisted insemination or by in vitro fertilisation.  Hundreds of thousands of children have been safely conceived worldwide using stored sperm.

Frequently asked questions

Are these methods guaranteed to work?

The likelihood of cryostorage working will depend on a number of factors, such as your sperm count at the time of freezing. Your fertility specialist will be able to provide you with an estimate of the chance of success for your particular situation.  

What happens if I want to use the frozen sperm sample?

First step is to schedule an appointment with your Westmead Fertility Centre fertility specialist to discuss the best method of treatment and arrange next steps. 

All content should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have. 

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