Testicular Cancer

Fertility

The removal of one testicle will not affect a man's ability to father children. However, chemotherapy usually causes infertility during and for a time after treatment, and for some men this may be permanent. For this reason men are usually advised to store sperm before starting chemotherapy treatment.

Men, who live quite close to the hospital, may be able to produce sperm samples at home. Otherwise samples are produced at the hospital. Some hospitals store sperm free, but if the hospital has to pay for this service, the patient may be charged.

Radiotherapy does not usually cause infertility either, but sperm banking should be offered before treatment starts. One man was worried because he wasn't offered sperm banking before radiotherapy, and was relieved when his wife subsequently had a baby girl. Another man mentioned that the doctor wrongly assumed that because he had two children he didn't need to consider sperm banking before his radiotherapy.

Some of the men interviewed here reported that their sperm wasn't active before their operation to remove a testicle.

One man described his distress at finding out that he was infertile before his chemotherapy started, and he was felt it was 'out of order' when the GP's receptionist wrongly assumed that he would be pleased that his sperm count was nil, thus avoiding the need for contraceptives. It is known that successful treatment with chemotherapy may actually cause sperm production to improve. This man was delighted that his sperm count returned to normal some time after his treatment had finished, thus giving him the choice of having children in future.

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Sometimes surgery to remove a tumour or the lymph glands in the abdomen causes damage to the nerves that control ejaculation (see 'Sex'). In this case sperm can be stored before surgery so that it is possible to father a child by assisted reproduction.

Last reviewed December 2014.

Last updated December 2011.

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