Fertility and hormone concerns in boys and men with testicular cancer
Testicular cancer and its treatment can affect hormone levels and might affect a man’s ability to father children after treatment. It’s important to discuss the possible effects with your doctor before starting treatment so you are aware of the risks and what your options might be.
Most boys and men develop cancer in only one testicle. The remaining testicle usually can make enough testosterone (the main male hormone) to keep you healthy. If the other testicle needs to be removed because the cancer is in both testicles or if a new cancer develops in the other testicle, you will need to take some form of testosterone for the rest of your life. Most often this is in the form of a gel or patch that is applied to the skin or a monthly injection (given in a doctor’s office). If you need testosterone supplements, talk to your doctor about what form is best for you.
Testicular cancer or its treatment can make you infertile (unable to father a child). Before treatment starts, men who might wish to father children may want to consider storing sperm in a sperm bank for later use. But be aware that the disease can cause low sperm counts, which may make it hard to get a good sample.
Infertility can also be an issue later in life for boys who have had testicular cancer. If a boy has already gone through puberty, sperm banking is often a good option, since the frozen samples are not damaged by long periods of storage. Researchers are also looking at new techniques that might allow younger boys to someday father children.
In some cases, if one testicle is left, fertility returns after the testicular cancer has been treated. For example, fertility typically returns about 2 years after chemotherapy stops.
Even when sperm counts in semen are very low, men have several options for fathering children. One of these options is in vitro fertilization, in which an egg cell that has been removed from a female partner is fertilized with the man’s sperm cells in a lab and then returned to her uterus.
Be sure to discuss any fertility concerns with your doctor before your treatment begins. For more information, see our document Fertility and Men With Cancer.
Last Medical Review: 11/01/2013
Last Revised: 02/11/2014