Medical science has opened an array of advanced treatment approaches to cure life-threatening diseases such as cancer. As starting cancer treatment is the foremost priority of the oncologist due to the nature of the disease, future fertility concern is likely to be missed.
According to recent studies, 15%-30% of cancer patients become permanently infertile as a result of these treatments. Cancer surgeries such as, prostatectomy and retroperitoneal lymphadenectomy) cause sexual dysfunction (erectile and ejaculatory dysfunction), resulting in infertility. As a result, pretreatment fertility preservation in adolescent and young adult patients becomes critical in such settings. In this article, Dr. Gunjan Sabherwal, IVF Specialist in Gurugram, Nova Southend IVF and Fertility shares how sperm freezing can help men battling with prostate cancer embrace fatherhood.
Effect of Prostate Cancer on Fertility
Cancer therapies, such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy, can hamper male reproductive function by directly damaging the germinal epithelium, resulting in oligozoospermia or azoospermia, or by damaging the neural pathways that monitor erection and ejaculation.
- Chemotherapy causes spermatogonial differentiation and mutagenesis which are noticed in cells at later stages of development.
- Radiotherapy, on the other hand, affects spermatogonia, being the most radiosensitive cells, due to their intense mitotic activity, and spermatids. Spermatids are vulnerable because they lack DNA repair mechanisms as a result of postmeiotic differentiation and chromatin condensation.
The impact of cancer treatment on the occurrence and severity of testicular dysfunction is determined by a number of factors, including the treatment stages, type of therapeutic regimen used and the cumulative dose. It is difficult to determine which cancer patients will regain spermatogenesis function and which might suffer infertility. As a result, sperm cryopreservation prior to cancer treatment is regarded as the most effective method of preserving fertility, particularly in male patients. Furthermore, understanding that fertility can be preserved through sperm cryopreservation may aid a patient's emotional struggle against cancer.
What is Sperm Freezing?
Sperm freezing, known as sperm banking or sperm cryopreservation, is the technique of extracting and freezing sperm for future use. After it has been thawed, frozen sperm can be utilised for intrauterine insemination (IUI) or in vitro fertilisation. It is usually stored in a nitrogen tank and frozen at -196 degrees Celsius.
One of the biggest advantages of freezing your sperm is that Frozen sperm has no set expiration date. It could be frozen indefinitely if stored correctly inside liquid nitrogen. With modern cryopreservation techniques, maintaining frozen sperms has become quite attainable. In fact, it is found that sperms that have been frozen for over 20 years have been successful.
The Process of Sperm Freezing
Before banking your sperm, it is required to submit a questionnaire, contract, and legal forms. The process also necessitates undergoing a blood screening for the detection of any other minor diseases or infections. Prior to submitting a sample, it is advised to refrain from having sex for two to three days.
Collected samples are examined for sperm quantity, shape, and movement to determine how many more samples are required. In order to achieve pregnancy, three to six specimens are typically collected.
In case of difficulty ejaculation, a surgical retrieval is an option. In this case, sperm will be extracted directly from the testicle by a healthcare professional.
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