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How can radiation affect a man's fertility?

Radiation therapy can slow down or stop sperm cell production if the testicle is in or near the target area for the radiation. A lead shield can help protect the testicles during radiation aimed at a nearby organ such as the prostate.
Total body irradiation used before some bone marrow transplants often causes permanent infertility.
If the testicles get a mild dose of radiation, a man's fertility may drop but can then recover over the next one to four years. 
If the radiation dose to the testicles is high, sperm production may stop forever. This happens because the spermatogonia are destroyed. These are the stem cells in the testicles that divide and grow to produce mature sperm.
Radiation damage to the part of the brain that controls hormone production can sometimes prevent the hormone messages from getting to the testicles.
 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.