Your diagnosis is usually not a risk factor for infertility. However, Hodgkin lymphoma is associated with low sperm count, which has been reported in about two-thirds of patients.
Chemotherapy and radiation can cause side effects as well as long-term and late effects, which can appear months or years after treatment. One possible late effect is infertility, the inability to conceive a child naturally. When first diagnosed with leukemia or lymphoma, your primary concern will be your upcoming treatment and long-term survival. You may not be thinking about whether you can one day become a parent. However, information about the potential effects of your treatment can help you take steps to maximize your ability to have a child in the future.
Not all cancer treatments affect fertility. Your risk depends on several factors, including
- Your age at the time of diagnosis
- The type and dosage of chemotherapy drug(s) you receive
- Alkylating agents, for example cyclophosphamide or procarbazine, have the most significant effect on fertility. Other drugs are generally less toxic to sperm-forming cells and eggs, but can also cause infertility, especially when used as part of a combination of therapies.
- The location and dosage of radiation
- Exposure to the testes may destroy cells that form sperm.
- Exposure to the ovaries may destroy eggs.
- Exposure to the pituitary gland in the brain may cause changes in secretion of hormones that regulate puberty and fertility.
- Whether you received a blood or marrow stem cell transplantation, which is associated with a high risk of infertility.
- Download or order The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s free fact sheet, Fertility Facts.