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Sexuality and Fertility in Men during Radiation Therapy

AMBULATORY CARE:

Radiation therapy

may damage your reproductive organs or cause a low sperm count. Radiation can also damage the DNA in sperm. Any of these may prevent you from being able to get a woman pregnant. Radiation can also decrease your testosterone levels, causing problems with sexual desire or function. You may also have trouble getting or keeping an erection. Ejaculation may be difficult or painful.

Male Reproductive System

Call your doctor if:

  • You have new or increased pain during or after sex.
  • You have bleeding from your penis during or after sex.
  • You have a change in erectile function or the amount of semen you make.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

What you can do before radiation therapy to protect your fertility:

Before you start radiation therapy, talk to healthcare providers about your family plans. It is important to store your sperm before you begin radiation therapy if you want children after treatment. DNA damage can happen after the first treatment. You can keep your sperm in a sperm bank before you begin treatment.

What you need to know about fertility during and after radiation therapy:

Work with healthcare providers to plan a pregnancy with your partner if you did not store sperm before treatment. You may be able to get your partner pregnant during and after treatment, but radiation can harm an unborn baby. Radiation can also cause problems during pregnancy. Use birth control during the time you are treated with radiation therapy. Then wait 1 to 2 years after treatment before you try to get your partner pregnant. This may prevent problems with the pregnancy or harm to the baby. Talk to your healthcare provider about birth control options.

Manage side effects of radiation therapy:

  • Hormone replacement medicine may be given to increase your sex drive.
  • Enjoy other forms of intimacy if sex is uncomfortable or painful.
  • Get support by joining a support group or going to therapy. Changes in sexual function and fertility may be difficult for you and your partner.

For support and more information:

  • American Cancer Society
    250 Williams Street
    Atlanta , GA 30303
    Phone: 1- 800 - 227-2345
    Web Address: http://www.cancer.org

Follow up with your doctor as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

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