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Teen Boys Preserving Fertility before Cancer Treatment

Parents of children who are diagnosed with cancer have many difficult decisions to make while under severe emotional duress. Many of them are concerned about their child becoming infertile from cancer treatment. The risk of infertility depends on the child’s age, treatment type and treatment duration. Most boys have sperm present in their semen by the age of 13. Therefore, teen boys 13 years and older can preserve their fertility through sperm freezing.

However many boys are uncomfortable discussing masturbation with their parents or feel too much anxiety under the circumstances to provide a semen sample. Many oncology offices will have a nurse or patient navigator that can discuss the options with both the patient and his parents. It’s important to receive assent from the child (his permission) in addition to the parent’s permission, known as consent.  The California Cryobank has medically trained consultants who guide patients and their parents through the process.

Should the child be under in-patient hospital care and unable to travel to one of our branches, he may collect his specimen into a sterile cup and have a parent drop it off for him, as long as it is within one hour of the collection. In cases where a teen is unable to collect his ejaculate, a board-certified urologist or in some cases andrologist could perform a testicular sperm extraction (TESE) or testicular sperm aspiration (TESA). See our post on both TESE and TESA for more information on these methods.

Unfortunately, prepubertal boys do not have many options. An experimental technique called testicular tissue freezing has no live births reported but may provide hope when no other options exist. Time is of the essence for these families as there is often only a short window to consider fertility preservation before treatment begins. California Cryobank takes same day appointments at all of its branch locations. 

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