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Sperm after chemotherapy

Waving
Posts: 43
Joined: Sep 2004

Does anyone know if chemotherapy for cancer damages sperm cells, and if it does, how long should men wait after the end of chemotherapy before trying to conceive?

spongebob's picture
spongebob
Posts: 2600
Joined: Apr 2003

Waving -

Bad news... men can't concieve! (I know, I'm a smart-ass).

I have "heard" that 5FU /Leucovorin doesn't damage spermatazoa BUT, I also know that radiation does. I haven't heard anything about avastin, oxaliplatin, etc.

Probably the best thing to do is discuss with your onc along with someone from the reproductive health/urology dept at the hospital.

The important thing to bear in mind is that chemo treats everyone differently. They will probably want to do a motility and density count on you if you are interested in fathering a child. that will help give them some idea as to how successful you may/may not be.

Hope that's at least a little helpful.

Cheers

- SpongeBob

big_al
Posts: 15
Joined: Jun 2005

I was told, for at least one drug (CPT-11?) not to initiate a pregnancy. I think maybe the same was said of 5FU. The problem is chromosome damage in reproducing cells-(this is how the drugs kill cancer cells and cause side effects). I think that after a period off chemo things should be OK, but check with your onc, its one of the things he's being paid for.

big_al

Waving
Posts: 43
Joined: Sep 2004

Thanks SpongeBob and Big Al. Yes you've reminded me of two aspects I didn't even mention - low sperm counts after chemotherapy, and different chemo drugs causing different levels of damage. I've read that for some post-chemo men the count rises slowly over a period of years. At least that's a practical problem we can understand and see in a microscope. Any chromosome damage is a more complex issue and can't be seen under a microscope. But I haven't seen any reports of abormalities in children fathered after chemo and you'd think any problems in that area would have surfaced by now, considering the large numbers of men who have fathered children after chemo. So that's reassuring.
If I find any additional useful info I'll post it onto this forum.

By the way Spongebob - thanks for bringing this to my attention "men can't conceive" - I just checked my dictionary and you're right - I had a feeling there was something wrong with my plans. Looks like I will need the assistance of a female of the species - that could complicate proceedings somewhat.

jrasnic
Posts: 14
Joined: Jul 2004

Hi Waving,

My husband had his swimmers frozen and counted before chemo, and then about a year after he finished chemo, he had his numbers checked again. Although the number is a bit lower, he is still considered fertile with a good probability of being able to help make a baby. I know that one should not try to fertilize or conceive during chemo, but I have heard no warnings about trying after chemo is completed and one has given himself time to get the toxic drugs out of his system.
Hope that helps!
Jackie

Waving
Posts: 43
Joined: Sep 2004

Thanks Jackie - glad to hear your husband has good numbers and it was wise to bank some semen before treatment. In regard to "fertilize or conceive" - that's good wording - I will borrow that for future use if you don't mind - it will solve Spongebob's concern about my using conceive for both sexes. Good luck if you try and make a baby!

Here's part of an interesting and relevant message posted by Yolanda on September 14 2005 on another forum: "My husband was diagnosed w/Colon Cancer last year (6/04). He had some sperm frozen, we just did a round of IVF (8/05) and used fresh sperm. We were told to wait 6 months after the chemo treatments stopped. Then he took a test to see how his DNA looked (7/05) and everything looked good. We are pregnant ...".

Firefighter35's picture
Firefighter35
Posts: 10
Joined: Jul 2005

I have a question that may or may not be with this topic. I wanted to know if anyone knows if there is any affect on a woman who is active with a man who is going through chemo. There is not a worry about her getting pregnant since her tubes are tied, just wanted to know if there was any risk to her. Any info. would be appreciated.
Thanks,
Tim

spongebob's picture
spongebob
Posts: 2600
Joined: Apr 2003

Tim -

Use a condom. Chemo drugs are excreted via the urinary tract and can often be found in semen. Best to keep chemo drugs away from those who don't need them!

- SB

Waving
Posts: 43
Joined: Sep 2004

On this page http://www.tc-cancer.com/tcsex.html of the website tc-cancer.com it says: "You may be afraid that you can pass on cancer cells to your partner during sex. This is not true. Cancer is not infectious. But you should use a condom if you are having chemotherapy, and for three months afterwards. Doctors don't know enough about how much of the drugs come through in the semen. So wearing a condom makes sure that your partner is as safe as possible."
I don't know whether that refers only to the chemotherapy specific to testicular cancer or to chemotherapy more generally.

You could ask her whether she wishes to take a chance on absorbing a small amount of the chemotherapy drugs. I don't know whether chemo agents are concentrated in semen but if they aren't then the mount your partner would absorb would be pretty minimal I would think.

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