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Does radiation affect fertility? I heard that patients who go through radiation therapy will have a higher change to become infertile, is this true

5 doctors weighed in
Dr. Natarajan Raman
Radiation Oncology
3 doctors agree

In brief: Yes

Exposure of gonads (testes and ovaries) to radiation can make you sterile.
People who undergo radiation often have cancer and receive a lot of chemotherapy which can affect their fertility also. So cancer patients have a higher risk of infertility even if the gonads are not exposed to radiation. Radiation can also be a hazard if you are a radiological worker but safeguards are in the workplace.

In brief: Yes

Exposure of gonads (testes and ovaries) to radiation can make you sterile.
People who undergo radiation often have cancer and receive a lot of chemotherapy which can affect their fertility also. So cancer patients have a higher risk of infertility even if the gonads are not exposed to radiation. Radiation can also be a hazard if you are a radiological worker but safeguards are in the workplace.
Dr. Natarajan Raman
Dr. Natarajan Raman
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Dr. Lauren Stegman
Radiation Oncology

In brief: Radiation

Radiation therapy will only affect fertility if the testicles or ovaries receive treatment.
Therefore this is usually only an issue for patients with pelvic cancers. For women these most commonly include cervix cancers and for men testicular cancer. Patients of both sexes can have issues if radiation is needed for lymphomas in the pelvis, some sarcomas, or even rectal or bladder cancers. For some of these cancers surgeries or chemotherapy are also given that can have effects on fertility. This can also be an issue in many types of childhood cancers. There are a number of things that can be done to try to preserve fertility when pelvic radiation is needed. Modern radiation techniques like imrt and image-guided treatment can sometimes minimize dose to the reproductive organs. Sometimes special shields can be used to protect the testicles from scatter radiation. Sometimes the ovaries cane be surgically moved to a different placement in the pelvis where they can be more easily blocked from the radiation dose. Men can also sperm bank and there freezing or transplantation of ovarian tissue to another place in the body (like under thesis on the arm) is being studied at some institutions. Your radiation oncologist should address fertility issues with you during the consultation and subsequent visits. It is also important to discuss potential hormonal changes and/or changes in sexual function that might result fom radiation.

In brief: Radiation

Radiation therapy will only affect fertility if the testicles or ovaries receive treatment.
Therefore this is usually only an issue for patients with pelvic cancers. For women these most commonly include cervix cancers and for men testicular cancer. Patients of both sexes can have issues if radiation is needed for lymphomas in the pelvis, some sarcomas, or even rectal or bladder cancers. For some of these cancers surgeries or chemotherapy are also given that can have effects on fertility. This can also be an issue in many types of childhood cancers. There are a number of things that can be done to try to preserve fertility when pelvic radiation is needed. Modern radiation techniques like imrt and image-guided treatment can sometimes minimize dose to the reproductive organs. Sometimes special shields can be used to protect the testicles from scatter radiation. Sometimes the ovaries cane be surgically moved to a different placement in the pelvis where they can be more easily blocked from the radiation dose. Men can also sperm bank and there freezing or transplantation of ovarian tissue to another place in the body (like under thesis on the arm) is being studied at some institutions. Your radiation oncologist should address fertility issues with you during the consultation and subsequent visits. It is also important to discuss potential hormonal changes and/or changes in sexual function that might result fom radiation.
Dr. Lauren Stegman
Dr. Lauren Stegman
Thank
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