Does chemo make a man infertile permanently?

1 answer | Last updated: Nov 25, 2016
Lancienta asked...

Does chemo make a man infertile permanently? Or can that ever be reversed?


Expert Answers

Ernest Rosenbaum, MD, is an oncologist affiliated with Stanford University and with the Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of California, San Francisco, where he has developed protocols for supportive care and clinical practices.

The answer to this question depends on what type of cancer the man is being treated for and which chemotherapy drugs he is taking. A number of chemotherapy drugs can lower sperm counts and cause infertility during treatment, but in many cases the body recovers after treatment. However, some chemotherapy drugs permanently decrease or halt sperm production, leading to male infertility. The regimen known as MOPP used for Hodgkins disease, for example, inhibits sperm production virtually 100 percent.

If having children is important to you and your partner, it's important to speak with his oncologist about this issue before he begins chemotherapy. There may be alternate chemotherapy regimens the doctor can prescribe that are less damaging to sperm production. In addition, there are sperm preservation techniques available that can allow you and your husband to get pregnant in the future.