So you've decided to have kids!
Don't panic. Even if you've lost a a testicle, there are many roads available to you in order to have kids. The first is - normally! Despite losing one testicle, your second testicle may still produce enough sperm to conceive normally.
If you have a low sperm count, or chemotherapy or radiation therapy has made normal conception unavailable, there is still hope! This is just another step on your cancer journey. Below is some of the information you'll need on the road to having your own kids.
Soon after someone is diagnosed with testicular cancer, one of the first stops on their cancer journey is likely to be to Sperm Bank. Sperm banking is the process of collecting and storing semen. It is also known as sperm cryopreservation or semen storage. Since the removal of one testicle does not affect fertility, sperm banking can be discussed with the doctor after the radical orchiectomy if the patient plans to have children in the future. Sperm banking should be done if the patient will receive chemotherapy or radiation therapy and is planning to have children, since these treatments may negatively impact fertility. Prior to sperm banking, a sperm count is taken from a semen sample to determine if the semen is suitable to be preserved. The following characteristics are used to determine the quality of the sperm:
- Sperm count: The number of sperm present. 15 - 150 million sperm/mL is the typical healthy male sperm count. A single ejaculate with more than 22 million sperm is considered healthy
- Motility: The percentage of sperm actively swimming. >50% should be motile.
- Morphology: The shape of the sperm. Approximately >25-30% of sperm should have a functional and appropriate shape.
The yearly cost for sperm banking is around $300, with the first deposit costing more for the initial sperm analysis. The sperm is frozen using liquid nitrogen vapor and can later be thawed and used to artificially inseminate a female.
In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)
Males with low sperm counts (<2 million) after chemotherapy may decide to undergo In Vitro Fertilization IVF: a process in which an egg is manually fertilized with a sperm in a laboratory dish. Mature ova are gathered from the female and stored separately until they are ready for sperm injection. If an individual has previously banked sperm, a sample of sperm will be collected from the affected male and will be screened to find the healthiest sperm within the sample and injected into the female’s ovum. Once fertilization occurs, the zygote will be placed along the uterine wall of the woman to ensure implantation and proper development. The cost ranges between $10,000-$17,000. Miscarriages are more likely to occur with IVF as proper implantation is less likely to occur compared to traditional fertilization.
For more information on IVF, visit our partner organization Generations of Hope: