Testicular cancer and its treatment can affect fertility and sexual activity. But if you received a testicular cancer diagnosis, there are steps you can take to increase your chances of having children.
Many factors can affect one’s ability to conceive a child — from testicular injury and infections to testicular cancer and cancer treatments.
This article explores how testicular cancer and cancer treatments can affect a person’s reproductive health and what steps you can take to preserve your fertility.
Fast facts about testicular cancer
- Testicular cancer is the
most commoncancer type that occurs in young adults.
- The most common age range for the appearance of testicular cancer is between
25 and 29years old.
- The lifetime risk of testicular cancer in people assigned male at birth is about
1 in 250.
- An estimated
9,190 peoplewill receive testicular cancer diagnoses in 2023, making up about 0.5%of all new cancer diagnoses for that year.
- An estimated
470people will die from testicular cancer in 2023, accounting for 0.1%of all 2023 cancer deaths.
- Testicular cancer is one of the most curable types of cancer, with a
5-year survival rate of about 95%.
Testicular cancer is the most common cancer type in young people assigned male at birth. It’s also curable.
If you’ve received a testicular cancer diagnosis, your chances of survival can be good with proper treatment, but there are some trade-offs to the positive outlook.
Testicular cancer and its treatments can affect your ability to conceive a child. A 2018 research review showed that
Beyond these initial challenges to future fertility, cancer treatments may further decrease your ability to conceive a child after testicular cancer. Overall, cancer treatments may further reduce fertility levels by about
Precancer fertility level
Your fertility level before a testicular cancer diagnosis plays a role in your chances of conceiving a child after diagnosis and treatment. If you already have no sperm or low sperm counts at the time of diagnosis, treatment can decrease the amount and quality of your sperm even more.
There are lots of
- congenital or chromosomal abnormalities
- pituitary disorders
- certain infections, like mumps
- testicular swelling
- hormone imbalances
- thyroid disorders
- an undescended testicle
- varicocele, or a disruption in testicular blood flow
- cystic fibrosis
- erectile dysfunction
- hypertension (high blood pressure)
smoking or substance use disorder
Age at the time of diagnosis and treatment
Drops in testosterone and testicular volume can also occur with age and health conditions that can be common in older adults — like high blood pressure and an enlarged prostate — that can make conceiving more difficult.
Many forms of cancer affect your body beyond the individual organ or body system where the cancer begins. Cancer strains your entire body, frequently causing symptoms like fatigue, weight loss, and gastrointestinal health concerns.
Testicular cancer, in particular, can affect fertility since the testicles produce sperm and testosterone.
Type, dose, and duration of treatment
Cancer treatments are designed to attack rapidly reproducing cells — a trait typical of cancer cells. But other cells in your body reproduce rapidly, too.
Time after treatment
How long you wait after treatment to try and have a child matters, too. Studies have found that most infertility health concerns stemming from cancer treatment resolve about
But your age at diagnosis and the time it takes to treat your cancer — along with a 2-year recovery window — can delay conception efforts beyond people’s peak reproductive years.
Can you still conceive if you’ve had surgery to remove one testicle?
When a doctor removes one testicle during cancer treatment, or it’s missing due to an injury or never descended from the pelvis, your body usually finds ways to compensate.
People with a single testicle typically produce an excess amount of a hormone in that one testicle compared with the amount produced in people with two testicles. This boost in hormone production can help create adequate sperm and testosterone to conceive a child.
It’s a good idea to begin discussions about preserving fertility at the time you receive your testicular cancer diagnosis. A 2020 research review showed that
Despite the odds that your fertility can reduce after testicular cancer,
Since both testicular cancer and the ways to treat it can result in lower sperm counts,
Freezing sperm in a collection bank can be a good option since cold temperatures usually don’t damage sperm during long-term storage.
Can testicular cancer affect sexual activity?
In addition to decreasing sperm counts and quality, testicular cancer itself and therapies used to treat it can also affect sexual activity.
Anxiety, decreased libido, changes in blood flow, and ejaculation health concerns are all possible
Can testicular cancer cause developmental issues for a fetus?
Chemotherapy and radiation treatments are known to affect sperm counts, quality, and sexual activity, but experts have not studied the effect of these treatments on a developing fetus.
But people with one particular form of testicular cancer — testicular germ cell cancer — did conceive children with higher rates of developmental issues for the fetus, regardless of their cancer treatment.
Can testicular cancer make it harder to conceive?
Yes, testicular cancer can affect sperm health, quality, and the ability to conceive. These side effects can come from the cancer itself and cancer treatments.
Talk with your doctor about ways to preserve your fertility when you receive a diagnosis. Harvesting and banking sperm as soon as possible after diagnosis and before cancer treatment may help you conceive a child after your recovery.
Is testicular cancer curable?
Testicular cancer is highly curable. Many people — about
Testicular cancer is the most common type of cancer among young people, but it’s also highly curable. The trade-off is how cancer treatment affects your fertility. Testicular cancer and its treatments can have a negative effect on your sperm counts, quality, and your sexual activity.
Sperm banking at the time of diagnosis is a highly effective way to preserve your fertility, but not every medical professional suggests this at the time of diagnosis.
If you have testicular cancer and worry about your chances of conceiving children in the future, be sure to talk with your doctor at the time of diagnosis about options for preserving your fertility.