Male fertility preservation is the most common way for men undergoing chemotherapy or radiation therapy to preserve their healthy sperm. In most cases, men with cancer do not have to worry about the disease reducing sperm viability. Instead, it is the aggressive treatments needed to fight cancer that can harm sperm and make men infertile.
Preserving sperm involves freezing sperm and placing sperm in proper storage. This kind of assisted reproductive technology (ART) gives men and their partners a good chance of starting a family when the time is right. Preserved sperm samples containing just a few healthy sperms is enough to lead to pregnancy when used in conjunction with in vitro fertilization or intrauterine insemination.
The Process of Male Fertility Preservation–How Does It Work?
Following a consultation appointment at Viera Fertility Clinic in Melbourne, men who wish to preserve sperm will undergo fertility testing to determine sperm count and health. Sperm is then collected for freezing (cryopreservation) via natural ejaculation. Some men may need surgical removal of their sperm if ejaculation is not possible. Testicular sperm aspiration (TESA) is one method of obtaining sperm using a thin needle to extract sperm from the testicles. Another sperm extraction procedure involves a doctor removing small pieces of testicle tissue that may contain sperm.
Cryopreservation of sperm samples involves freezing samples and storing them in liquid nitrogen, which is simply nitrogen in its liquid state kept at sub-zero temperatures. Long-term storage of sperm samples is achieved at temperatures at or below -384 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the sperm is cryopreserved, it is essentially in a state of suspended animation. Theoretically, frozen sperm should remain viable as long as it is thawed according to protocols.
When frozen sperm is thawed for use in an assisted reproductive technology procedure, sperm is removed from its liquid nitrogen environment. Caps covering vials are loosened before they are thawed at room temperature for about 20 minutes. Once the sperm is completely thawed, a buffer is added to each vial. Sperm is then centrifuged to remove traces of cryoprotectants.
Why Men Choose to Preserve Sperm
If a man younger than 40 finds out he has cancer and must undergo chemo or radiation therapy but wants to have children one day, he might consider male fertility preservation before starting treatment. Other reasons why men opt for sperm preservation include:
- Military deployments to areas of civil unrest
- Career implications
- Hormone treatments that may disrupt sperm count or viability
- Urological surgeries
- Known exposure to substances that could potentially impact fertility
Do Testicle Shields Help Protect Sperm During Radiation Therapy?
Testicle shields are available for men receiving inguinal hernia or pelvic radiation therapy. Shields are placed over a man’s scrotal sac to reduce radiation amounts reaching the testicles. Reduction ability increases according to how far shielded testicles are from target area edges receiving radiation.
Some men with small, cancerous tumors may be treated using intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT). By manipulating proton and photon radiation beams to conform precisely to a tumor’s shape, IMRT reduces or eliminates exposure to surrounding tissues to radiation. This may prevent damage to sperm while also minimizing side effects of radiation treatments.
Men qualifying for IMRT should always be given the option of male fertility preservation since both testicular shielding and IMRT does not guarantee sperm will not be harmed and rendered inviable.
Learn More About Male Fertility Preservation by Calling Viero Clinic in Melbourne Today
A diagnosis of cancer, military deployment to unsafe areas in the world, career goals or vasectomies should not stop men from having the family they have always wanted. Viera Fertility not only provides male fertility preservation, but we also offer semen analysis, fertility testing, and minimally invasive surgical treatment for men with fertility issues involving obstructions or dilated pelvic veins (varicocele). Schedule a consultation appointment today with us today if you are interested in male fertility preservation.