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Testicular cancer surgery side effects

Men and woman discussing testicular cancer

This page is about the possible side effects of surgery for testicular cancer. There is information about

 

A quick guide to what's on this page

Side effects of testicular cancer surgery

If you have one testicle removed, there are no lasting side effects. The other testicle makes up for the missing one by making more testosterone and sperm. You can have a false testicle put in place of the one that is removed during the operation, so you will look the same afterwards.

If you have both testicles removed, you will be infertile. You may be able to bank sperm before your surgery so that you can still father children. You will not produce any testosterone, so will need hormone replacement therapy to maintain your sex drive and be able to have an erection.

Surgery to remove lymph glands at the back of your abdomen can damage nerves that control the release of sperm from your penis (ejaculation). Sperm will then go backwards into the bladder, instead of forwards out of your penis. You can still get an erection and have an orgasm. But the orgasm will be dry because you will not produce any semen and you will be infertile. It is sometimes possible to do an operation called a nerve sparing lymph node dissection, which reduces this risk.

 

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Side effects of orchidectomy

If you have one testicle removed, there are no lasting side effects. The other testicle makes up for the missing one by making more testosterone and sperm. You can have a false testicle put in place of the one that is removed during the operation, so you will look the same afterwards.

If you have both testicles removed, you will be infertile. If it is possible, you may be able to bank sperm before your surgery so that you can still father children.

Having both testicles removed means you will not produce any testosterone. You will need testosterone replacement therapy to maintain your sex drive and be able to have an erection. There is information about this in the living with testicular cancer section about your sex life.

 

Side effects of lymph node removal

If you have surgery to remove the lymph glands at the back of your abdomen (retroperitoneal lymph node dissection), you may not be able to father children afterwards. This is because the operation can damage nerves that control the release of sperm from your penis (ejaculation). The sperm go backwards into the bladder, instead of forwards out of your penis. This is called retrograde ejaculation. You can still get an erection and have an orgasm. But the orgasm will be dry because you will not produce any semen.

It is sometimes possible to do an operation called a nerve sparing lymph node dissection. The nerves that control ejaculation are left intact to reduce the risk of having retrograde ejaculation. It is not always possible to do this if there is cancer close to the nerve pathways. Leaving the nerves behind could then increase the risk of the cancer coming back. There is no guarantee that you will ejaculate normally after the surgery.

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Updated: 22 February 2013