Fertility and hormone concerns with testicular cancer
Most boys and men get cancer in only one testicle. The other testicle usually can make enough testosterone (the male hormone) to keep you healthy. If the other testicle has to be removed because the cancer is in both testicles or if a new cancer develops, you will need to take testosterone the rest of your life. Most often this is in the form of a gel or patch that is put on the skin or a monthly shot (given in a doctor’s office). If you need to take testosterone, talk to your doctor about what form is best for you.
Testicular cancer or its treatment can affect whether you can father children. (In some cases, if one testicle is left, fertility returns after the cancer has been treated.) Before treatment starts, men who might wish to father children should think about banking sperm for later use. But sometimes cancer can cause low sperm counts, which may make it hard to get a good sample.
Even when sperm counts in semen are very low, men have options for fathering children. One of these options is in vitro fertilization. An egg cell that has been removed from a female partner is fertilized by your sperm cells in a lab and then returned to her uterus.
Fertility 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 before treatment is often a good option, since the frozen samples can be stored for many years. Researchers are also looking at new ways to allow younger boys to someday father children.
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: 01/02/2014
Last Revised: 02/11/2014