It’s Movember, the annual month-long global men’s health awareness campaign, and our Senior Embryologist and Facilities Manager Alan Birks is supporting the cause by growing his own ‘mo’ throughout November.
It’s a cause close to his heart - through his work at Manchester Fertility, Alan has helped to treat many men whose fertility has been affected by male cancers, including testicular cancer and prostate.
Thanks to treatment breakthroughs and specialist help, having cancer as a man doesn’t always mean you’re infertile and can never have a child.
At Manchester Fertility, we help many men whose fertility has been impaired through cancer and its treatment to become fathers, either using their own sperm through specialist techniques, or through the use of donor sperm.
How your fertility is affected depends on the type of cancer and recommended treatment, including cancer drugs, dosage and surgery. Our male fertility specialists will assess your fertility and create a bespoke fertility treatment plan that gives you the best chance of a baby.
If you’re newly diagnosed, we can help you prepare for the future by freezing your sperm. If you’ve already had treatment such as chemotherapy or surgery, we can advise if it’s still possible to use your own sperm in fertility treatment, through specialist techniques such as Surgical Sperm Retrieval.
If your only option is donor sperm, we can offer you the highest quality donor sperm from a choice of UK sperm donors that match your requirements, with no waiting list.
Our fertility treatments and services include:
Fertility preservation: sperm freezing
Before any cancer treatment begins, such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy or surgery, it may be possible to freeze samples of your sperm, which can then be used in fertility treatment in future.
Before you freeze your sperm you will undergo screening to make sure you’re free of any infectious diseases. Your sperm is then preserved in our state-of-the-art Laboratory in liquid nitrogen. When you’re ready to try for a baby, your sperm is thawed and analysed by our expert team and any viable sperm used in an ICSI cycle – a revision of IVF where a single, healthy sperm is extracted and injected directly into the egg to fertilise it.
Surgical Sperm Retrieval (SSR)
If treatment has meant you’re not producing any sperm through ejaculation anymore, a highly specialised technique called Surgical Sperm Retrieval (SSR) may help.
SSR is a surgical way of extracting sperm from areas of your reproductive system, such as the epididymis or testis. There are different SSR techniques depending upon the cause.
SSR may be advised if you’ve had chemotherapy, or surgery such as prostate gland removal, or there’s nerve damage from surgery causing issues such as retrograde ejaculation, where semen goes back into the bladder.
Whatever the cause, our male fertility specialists will identify if SSR can help you, and which technique is the most appropriate. Any recovered sperm is usually frozen by us so we know there is viability before any fertility treatment begins, with an ICSI cycle used instead of traditional IVF.
Using a sperm donor
We’re one of the only clinics in the UK to be able to offer sperm from our own UK-based sperm donors, with no waiting list. Unlike many other clinics, we do not rely on imported sperm from Europe to help our patients.
Tell us what characteristics you’d like your sperm donor to have, and we’ll match your requirements to the sperm donors we have in our database. All of our sperm donors are HFEA-registered, health screened and fully identifiable to your child in future, with detailed profiles to help you choose. You’ll be fully involved in treatment just as you would be if your own sperm was being used, supported every step of the way by our dedicated Donation Team and counsellors.
Chances of pregnancy
Your chances of success using sperm that has been preserved, or sperm that’s been extracted through SSR techniques, depends upon how well the sperm survives the freeze-thaw process, and how much sperm is recovered. We’ll explain different likely outcomes to you, and your chances of success based on your diagnosis and fertility status, so you can proceed with any recommended treatment with confidence.
If you’d like our help to have a baby, or are interested in sperm freezing for fertility preservation, call our friendly Patient Advisors on 0845 268 2244 or book in for a one-to-one - a free, no obligation session with a Patient Advisor where we can discuss treatments and answer any questions you have in private. You may also find our Guide for Men useful.
For more information about Movember, visit uk.movember.com.
Last updated: 21st January 2020