Fertility after pelvic radiotherapy
The testicles, where sperm are produced, are very sensitive to radiotherapy and are close to the bladder, prostate and rectum.
Pelvic radiotherapy is likely to make you unable to father any children (infertile). This may not be a concern for you if you’re older or already have a family.
You may have had sperm stored before treatment started. This can be used in the future, along with fertility treatments, to try to have a baby with your partner. You should always discuss your concerns about infertility with your cancer specialist before treatment starts.
See Robert's experience of fertility treatment before he began his treatment for cancer.
Infertility can be very distressing and difficult to live with. Some people find it helpful to talk things over with their partner, family or friends. Others might prefer to talk to a trained counsellor. Your GP or cancer specialist can arrange this for you. Many hospitals also have specialist nurses who can offer support, and fertility clinics usually have a counsellor you can talk to.
Our cancer support specialists can discuss problems you may have and they can also help you find a counsellor who can give you help and advice.
As you may still be producing sperm for some time after treatment, you will be advised to use effective contraception. Some doctors recommend you do this for six months and others for up to two years after treatment. This is because sperm produced after treatment may still be fertile but could be damaged. This means it might cause abnormalities in a child conceived soon after radiotherapy. Although, at the moment, there isn’t any evidence that children born to fathers who have had radiotherapy have an increased risk of abnormalities.