Experiencia y futuro en biotecnología
This consists of freezing the sperm in liquid nitrogen, where it is stored at -196º, maintaining its fertility capacity over a period of many years. That is why, this possibility must be offered to any man who is going to undergo surgery, or medical or radiotherapy treatments that could affect the spermatozoid production.
The Assisted Reproduction Law in force in Spain establishes the legal framework in which this technique is carried out. The patient is the only one who can decide about the destination of the frozen sperm.
The therapeutic progresses in oncology have dramatically increased the survival rate. Over 5% of cancer illnesses affect patients under 35 years old, and although treatments can result in recovery in many cases, it may sometimes leave after-effects involving the loss of fertility due to the toxicity of the medicines taken.
Again, in most men, spermatozoids will disappear 2-3 months after starting chemotherapy. Although the patient can recover, depending on the medicines and doses, on the treatment duration and his personal sensitivity, permanent after-effects usually occur.
In cases in which the spermatozoid production is started again, it is normally reduced as a consequence of the alterations caused by radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Therefore, we recommend freezing the sperm before starting the chemotherapy, even though the formation of spermatozoids is re-established.
Patients suffering cancer do not usually know these secondary effects, and logically, they give priority to vital diagnosis rather than to the possible after-effects arising from the treatment. Therefore, the medical team treating these patients is responsible for informing them about these matters, especially as far as freezing the sperm before starting the treatments is concerned.