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Find out about how testicular cancer treatment might affect your ability to father a child.

Most men have one testicle removed to treat their cancer. Usually men can still father children after this treatment. But if you have chemotherapy or surgery to remove the lymph glands in your abdomen you have a risk of permanent infertility and might not be able to father children.

You and your partner need to discuss this possibility with your doctor. Your doctor should offer you the chance to collect and store sperm samples before starting treatment. This is called sperm banking.

After treatment you can have tests to see if your fertility has gone back to normal.

Chemotherapy and fertility

Chemotherapy for testicular cancer causes temporary infertility in most men who have it.

Usually fertility goes back to normal some months after the chemotherapy ends but for some men it doesn't recover. This is most likely if you have had very high doses of chemotherapy.

About 7 out of 10 (70%) men who have chemotherapy for testicular cancer are later able to father children.

Surgery and fertility

Very rarely, the lymph glands in your tummy (abdomen) might need to be removed by surgery to treat non seminoma cancer. This surgery can make you ejaculate backwards (retrograde ejaculation). Your semen and sperm go back into your bladder instead of coming out of your penis.

If you have retrograde ejaculation you won't be able to have children by natural sexual intercourse. But it may be possible to take sperm directly from your testicles or from your urine after you have had sex. The sperm can be used to fertilise your partner directly or with in vitro fertilization (IVF).

You can ask your doctor about this.

Radiotherapy and fertility

Your doctors will advise you not to try to father a child when having radiotherapy treatment, and for up to a year afterwards.

When treating the lymph nodes in the abdomen, the radiotherapy beams are directed at an area down the middle of the stomach or abdomen, and sometimes at the groin. There is a small risk of the remaining testicle receiving a dose of radiation, as it is quite close by. The testicles are where sperm are made. Your radiographer uses a lead shield to protect the testicle from the radiotherapy beams but there is still a small chance of damage. 

In a healthy testicle, sperm are constantly being made, so any effects from the radiotherapy should usually only last for a few months after treatment ends.

Last reviewed: 
18 Sep 2014

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