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Fertility Preservation in Cancer Patients
University of Minnesota Physicians reproductive and oncology specialists are leaders in preserving fertility in cancer patients. Cancer treatments including chemotherapy, radiation therapy and bone marrow transplant can affect fertility; however, our program offers patients a variety of fertility preservation options from egg freezing and sperm banking to surgical ovarian transposition and more. These offerings, along with our legacy as a leader in cancer survivorship and extensive experience in fertility care, make us a destination for patients from around the world.
Fertility preservation options include:
- Embryo freezing
- Egg freezing
- Ovarian suppression
- Donor egg
- Gestational surrogacy
- Surgical ovarian transposition
- Radical trachelectomy
- Sperm banking
- Sperm extraction
- Donor sperm
Fertility Preservation for Men
Effects of Cancer Treatment on Male Fertility
Cancer treatment can cause problems in a number of different ways. It can:
- Impair the testes' ability to produce healthy sperm
- Harm the structures that are needed to ejaculate
- Reduce the level of hormones that come from the brain to stimulate sperm production
Not all cancer treatments cause problems with fertility. It depends on the following factors:
- Your diagnosis
- The number and quality of sperm you produce before treatment
- The type of surgery you have (Surgery that affects the reproductive structures may affect fertility)
- The type and dose of chemotherapy you receive (Some drugs are more likely to affect fertility than others)
- The dose of radiation you receive and the area of the body that is irradiated
These fertility problems may be temporary or permanent. You may regain the ability to produce healthy sperm after treatment. This may take months or even years. It is impossible to be sure how you will be affected. Thus, to preserve your fertility for the future you may elect to “bank” or store your sperm.
One of the concerns about sperm banking is whether the patient’s sperm will be of sufficient quality and number to achieve pregnancy after the cryopreservation procedure. Although sperm count, motility, and physiology may be impaired, technological advances in assisted reproduction, such as direct injection of sperm into the oocyte (ICSI), can usually overcome these deficits. Finally, having multiple samples of sperm stored is definitely an advantage, since it may reduce the need for in vitro fertilization and increase the chance for successful pregnancy outcome. But the desire to bank multiple ejaculates must be weighed against the necessity of treatment initiation and financial constraints.
An ‘Informed Consent Document’ authorizing consent for freezing and storage of the semen/testicular tissue must be completed prior to specimen production. The necessary document, entitled: Agreement and authorization for the storage of semen and/or testicular tissue can be obtained here.
How much will it cost to bank my sperm?
The charges for sperm banking include several fees. These include:
- Storage of the specimens
At the University of Minnesota Physicians Reproductive Medicine Center, sperm banking costs $200 with an annual storage fee of $500. Please be advised these fees are subject to change without notice.
You will also be required to have blood tests for certain infectious diseases. There could be additional charges for these tests. Call your insurance company to find out if you have coverage for sperm banking. Explain that your doctor has suggested sperm banking because of a diagnosis of cancer. Request a letter of medical necessity from your cancer doctor and forward the letter to your insurance company.
What’s next after my cancer therapy?
In general, it is suggested to wait at least 12 months after treatment before trying to have a child. With some chemotherapy agents you may not need to wait this long, but with others you may need to wait several years. Please check with your doctor to see how long you should wait. After the period of waiting recommended by your physician you may want to have a fresh sample of semen analyzed to see if you have enough healthy sperm to have a child naturally. Many men will be successful and never have to use their frozen sperm.
If, however, your therapy has resulted in you having too few or no sperm then the specimens you saved by sperm banking can be used to try and conceive a child. You may need the assistance of a fertility expert, such as a board-certified reproductive endocrinologist at the University of Minnesota Physicians Reproductive Medicine Center. These physicians have expertise in helping couples with fertility issues to have a child. Call 612.372.7050 for answers to your questions or concerns.