Carolinas HealthCare System
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Fertility Preservation for Men

Michelle Matthews, Director of Fertility Preservation

Approximately one in 69 men are diagnosed with cancer by 45 years of age. While survival rates are higher than ever, many men have significantly compromised fertility after their life-saving treatments. Fortunately, options are available to preserve future fertility for these men, and cryopreservation (freezing) of sperm is the most reliable method.

With cryopreservation, three or more semen samples produced at least 48 hours apart is ideal. Several samples are recommended since many men with cancer have low sperm counts even before their cancer treatment is initiated. Approximately 50 percent of men with testicular, hematologic and other cancer malignancies have low sperm counts, and 15 percent present with no sperm before the start of cancer care.

For men with no ejaculated sperm, a surgical testicular sperm extraction may be performed. Approximately 35 percent of men have sperm recovered from this procedure even after chemotherapy or radiation. The sperm is utilized for in vitro fertilization and healthy pregnancies have been reported.

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