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A Word to the Guys about Fertility Follow-Ups and Frozen Sperm after Cancer Treatment

a blog by Claire, January 4, 2013

If your partner has frozen his sperm for fertility preservation before cancer treatment, he may need a reminder that he left his sperm somewhere. Research presented at the Fertility 2013 conference says male cancer patients are dropping the ball when it comes to the future of their fertility- even when their sperm is already banked and waiting.

The study team at the University of Sheffield in the UK suggests a more engaging approach is needed to rein guys in for post-cancer fertility evaluations and to handle legal and logistical matters regarding their frozen sperm.

Despite being advised of fertility preservation pre-cancer treatment, there is little incentive for male patients to check their fertility after chemotherapy, radiation, or other fertility-compromising treatments. Perhaps they don’t understand the gravity of male factor infertility or are not thinking about kids just yet.

The effects on their fertility can be long- or short-term, but the only way to know for sure is with a series of follow-up evaluations. Their frozen sperm does offer some security, but sperm banks may only be required to store the sample for a specific period of time before further action and confirmation of ongoing infertility is required.

Investigators mailed surveys to 499 male cancer survivors of reproductive age who had undergone fertility preservation five or more years prior. Data was obtained from 193 survivors, and the study team discovered that 36% had never followed-up on their fertility. Another 33% attended just one follow-up visit.

"Trying to engage men with this subject is notoriously difficult,” says Dr. Allan Pacey, Professor at the University of Sheffield.

Men who had fewer treatment side effects, a negative experience while banking their sperm, and negative attitudes toward sperm disposal were found to be less compliant with fertility evaluation recommendations. There is a strong need for education about fertility risks to male cancer patients.

So, what will it take to get men thinking about their swimmers?

Might we suggest a study that sends text message reminders or educational pamphlets formatted like sports stats?

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