Fertility treatment for men

If your sperm count is low

If you are producing sperm, but not very many, you may be able to start a pregnancy by having sex. But your chances of success are likely to be higher using IVF (in vitro fertilisation) or ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection).

If you don’t produce sperm

If your body does not produce sperm, you won’t be able to start a pregnancy by having sex. If you stored sperm before your cancer treatment, this can be used with IUI, IVF or ICSI. Or you may choose to use sperm from a donor.

If you can’t have sex

Rarely, cancer treatment causes changes that mean that you might not be able to have sex. This can be very difficult to cope with. If your body is still producing sperm, your doctor may be able to collect sperm for IVF or ICSI. If you stored sperm before your cancer treatment, you may be able to use this. Or you may decide to use sperm from a donor.

If your hormone levels are low

Your body needs hormones from the pituitary gland and the testicles to produce sperm. Some cancer treatments can affect your hormone levels. You may be able to have injections that replace the missing hormones so you start producing sperm again.

While you are having the injections, you might be able to start a pregnancy naturally. Or you can collect sperm to use with IVF or ICSI. When you stop taking the injections, your body will stop producing sperm again.

What if fertility treatment doesn’t work?

Unfortunately, there is always a risk that fertility treatment won’t work. This might happen to anyone having fertility treatment, not just people affected by cancer. Your chance of success may depend on your age, your blood test results and the type of cancer treatment you had. Your fertility doctor will explain this before you start treatment. But it is still upsetting if treatment doesn’t work.

Some people decide to try again, but this can be a difficult decision to make. Fertility treatment can be stressful. For women, it can be hard physically as well as emotionally. And if you are paying for treatment, it can be expensive.

Counsellors in fertility clinics can offer support and advice. There are also organisations that offer counselling, such as the British Infertility Counselling Association (BICA). Your healthcare team might also know about support groups in your area. If you are 16 or over, you can join our Online Community.