Males taking thalidomide or lenalidomide have a high risk of causing birth defects in a fetus exposed to these drugs, which can stay in semen for a few months after treatment ends. You can learn more in Surgery for Prostate Cancer. Some chemotherapy drugs can affect the nerves in the genital area. Mitsis D, Beaupin LK, O’Connor T. Reproductive complications. It can permanently damage the ovaries, making it impossible for a woman to ever get pregnant. In other words, there can be a “body system malfunction” that can change a man's fertility and affect his ability to father a child. The testicles still make sperm, but the tubes that carry the sperm (vas deferens) are cut and tied off during removal of the bladder and prostate gland. From basic information about cancer and its causes to in-depth information on specific cancer types – including risk factors, early detection, diagnosis, and treatment options – you’ll find it here. This could affect a woman’s ability to become pregnant. Certain health problems, including cancer, can affect these things. What does it take to outsmart cancer? Chemotherapy doesn’t usually have a permanent effect on your sex life. Gonadal dysfunction. The health care provider should examine the patient's risk of pregnancy and desire to prevent pregnancy during chemotherapy. The risk of infertility varies, depending on: It’s very important to talk to your cancer care team to know how a cancer surgery or treatment that's being recommended for you may affect fertility before having the surgery or starting treatment. Not all chemotherapy drugs affect your ability to father a child. Instead it can flow backward into the bladder (called retrograde ejaculation) or does not go anywhere. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:665-675. Chemotherapy (chemo) works by killing cells in the body that are dividing quickly. Learn more about these partnerships and how you too can join us in our mission to save lives, celebrate lives, and lead the fight for a world without cancer. Read more in Fertility and Hormone Concerns in Boys and Men with Testicular Cancer. This is when the fetus's organs are still growing. At the American Cancer Society, we’re on a mission to free the world from cancer. Cells start out as offspring of other cells that have divided. Problems with fertility can also be called reproductive problems or alterations. It’s important to talk to your doctor about the risk of infertility before you start chemo. Women may not feel up to sexual intimacy after surgeries or during chemo and radiation. The process of sperm ejaculation can be disrupted. Some chemotherapy drugs can affect a man’s fertility. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health (NIH). A male may still be fertile while getting radiation treatments, but the sperm may be damaged by exposure to the radiation. A specialist clinic can store your sperm for many years. Are you feeling up to it? See Targeted Therapy and Immunotherapy to learn more about these cancer treatments. According to Dr. Mayer, systemic chemotherapy can be toxic to ovary function and can lead to temporary or permanent menopause. Oktay et al. We’ve invested more than $4.9 billion in cancer research since 1946, all to find more – and better – treatments, uncover factors that may cause cancer, and improve cancer patients’ quality of life. It’s also important to follow recommended screening guidelines, which can help detect certain cancers early. On one hand, most drugs—be they chemotherapy drugs or simple headache remedies—can raise the chance of a baby being born with defects when these are taken by pregnant women in the first trimester or 12 weeks of pregnancy, when the baby’s organs are still forming. Chemotherapy’s effects on female fertility can be especially damaging. With sexual stimulation, men can still have orgasm, but no fluid comes out of the penis. For this reason, sperm banking before the testicle is removed is now recommended for patients interested in saving their fertility. Agency for Healthcare Quality and Research (AHRQ). This could affect a woman’s ability to become pregnant. This results in lifelong changes to fertility. Fertility refers to having the ability to conceive, or being able to have a child. Even if a patient can get an erection, if there’s no semen coming from the penis during orgasm, he cannot conceive a child through sex. For reprint requests, please see our Content Usage Policy. 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