Do Cancer Treatments Cause Infertility?
Whether cancer treatments cause infertility depends mostly on whether and where radiation is being directed. Chemotherapy, on the other hand rarely affects fertility long-term.

Some cancer treatments can cause infertility while others do not. This will depend on where the cancer is located, the treatments chosen and how long the treatments must last. Not all infertility associated with cancer treatment is long term.

In men, infertility can occur is the stem cells responsible for sperm production are damaged during cancer treatment. These stem cells can be put on hold, so to speak, or damaged to the point that sperm production cannot be regained in the future. Most often, infertility in men due to cancer treatment will occur in cases where the cancer is located in or around the reproductive system and radiation is directed towards that area. This could include, but is not limited to, prostate cancer and testicular cancer.

In women, infertility occurs when the eggs and the ovaries are all damaged during cancer treatment. The ovaries contain the total number of eggs the female will have for her entire lifetime at puberty. The eggs do not reproduce as the sperm reproduce in men. If the eggs are all damaged, an egg donor can be used if the uterus is not damaged during treatment.

Sometimes, when radiation is directed to the uterus, surgery can be performed prior to radiation and the ovaries can be placed out side the field of radiation.

Both males and females have the opportunity to preserve fertility with cryotherapy before cancer treatment begins. Cryotherapy is the process of freezing sperm or freezing eggs for use after the cancer treatments are complete and the cancer is eradicated. If the female patient is unable to carry children after the cancer treatments are complete, the frozen eggs can be used with a surrogate mother to produce a biological child.