Pelvic radiotherapy and fertility
Effects on men
The testicles, where sperm is produced, are very sensitive to radiotherapy and are very close to the bladder, the prostate, and the rectum.
Sperm may be stored before the treatment starts. This sperm may be used in the future in conjunction with fertility treatments so that you and your partner can try to have a child. You should always discuss your concerns about infertility with your doctor before starting cancer treatment.
As you may still be producing sperm for some time after the treatment, it is recommended that you use an effective contraceptive method. Some doctors recommend doing this for six months to two years after treatment.
This is because the sperm produced after the treatment could still be fertile but it may also be damaged. As a result, it could cause abnormalities in children conceived shortly after radiotherapy. For the moment, however, there is no evidence that suggests that children born of fathers who have had radiotherapy have a greater risk of abnormalities.
Effects on women
Pelvic radiotherapy stops the production of eggs and affects the lining of the uterus. As a result, you may not be able to get pregnant.
Before having radiotherapy, some women may wish to see a fertility specialist to talk about the possibility of storing eggs or embryos (fertilized eggs).
Infertility can cause great anguish and can be difficult to cope with. Some people find it useful to talk about things with their partner, family, or friends. Others may prefer to talk to a qualified counselor. Many hospitals also have specialist nurses who can offer support, and fertility clinics normally have a counselor you can talk to.