How Does Testicular Cancer Affect Fertility and Sexuality?

September 24, 2020

Medically Reviewed By: Bradley McGregor, MD

Testicular cancer, which is most often diagnosed in men between the ages of 20 and 34, often creates major concerns about fertility and sexuality for people of all ages.

While treatment will require removal of the affected testicle, someone can still retain full sexual function after surgery. Likewise, while treatment can affect fertility, there are ways to manage those challenges so that you can retain the possibility of future children if desired.

Function after treatment

Testicular cancer is highly curable, even when it has spread. Doctors try to use the least aggressive treatments available for testicular cancer, starting with the removal of the affected testicles. Chemotherapy and radiation can be used after surgery as well, depending on the final stage and type of cancer.

While the removal of a testicle can be difficult, a person can maintain sexual function and fertility with one testicle. However, the removal of a testicle can cause emotional issues that may affect sexual function. Dana-Farber has resources will help you learn to adapt to your new situation and regain the sexual function that you may have lost, such as the Young Adult Program and the Sexual Health Program.

Managing fertility concerns

Testicular cancer treatment can have an impact on the patient’s fertility; infertility is often associated with testicular cancer.  This can cause some unique challenges that your care team can guide you through.

A person with one testicle can still be fertile and produce enough necessary sperm, but chemotherapy and radiation can have negative effects on fertility. Chemotherapy and radiation can cause damage to the sexual organs that can result in infertility.  People being treated for testicular cancer can consider banking sperm — in other words, freezing sperm and storing it for future use with a licensed sperm bank. While many patients may feel worlds away from the thought of having children, the consideration of whether or not to bank sperm is an important decision to make before beginning treatment.

This can be a tough issue to consider, and can be overwhelming to think about after receiving a diagnosis. Dana-Farber has social workers and systems in place to help guide you through these decisions and provide support along the way. The Adult Social Work Program, the Young Adult Program, and the Sexual Health Program all have services that can help Dana-Farber patients navigate the issues and questions that come along with a diagnosis.

Concerns about your sexuality and fertility are valid, and your doctors and care team will do everything they can to alleviate your fears and help you work through them.

About the Medical Reviewer

Bradley McGregor, MD

Dr. Bradley A. McGregor is the Clinical Director for the Lank Center of Genitourinary Oncology serving as a Medical Oncologist specializing in genitourinary malignancies at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Completing is undergraduate and medical school education at Tufts University; he then joined the United States Air Force at the San Antonio Uniformed Services Health Education Consortium. While in the military, he completed his post-graduate training in internal medicine, medical oncology and hematology. While in the uniformed services, he provided oncologic care to active duty members, their family members and retirees across the spectrum of benign hematology and medical oncology in San Antonio, TX and northern California at Travis Air Force Base. He served in a multitude of roles including scientific member of the IRB, faculty for the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences, clinical director and as the program director for the Transitional Year program. In addition, he served in Afghanistan as the Deputy Commander for the NATO led Medical Training Advisory Group where he mentored the Afghan physicians. Reaching the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and receiving the Meritorious Service medal, Dr. McGregor left the Air Force in July of 2016 and came to Dana-Farber. He is actively involved in clinical research in GU malignancies serving as primary investigator for several ongoing trials.