Cancer is one of the most chronic diseases impacting humanity. Other than surgery based on the different type of cancer in question and the organ in the body that is affected, Chemotherapy is another treatment option often available for individuals suffering different types of cancer. It involves a drug treatment that uses powerful chemicals to kill fast-growing cells within the body such as cancer cells. While chemotherapy is a practically effective way to treat cancer, it carries a significant risk of wide-ranging adverse side effects. According to Quidde et al., psychological factors including negative preconditioning and expectations is one of the main side effects that burden cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. However, the negative side effects can also be experienced in different body systems such as the reproductive systems of the digestive systems due to the pharmacodynamics of the drug. For instance, while killing fast-growing cells enables chemotherapy to be a suitable cancer treatment, in male reproduction, chemotherapy also kills sperm cells given their rapid rate of development and can effectively lead to complications in reproductive health. Given the different physiology especially when it comes to reproductive systems for males and females, chemotherapy will have a wide range of different effects on the different systems.
Effects of Chemotherapy on Gonads
Chemotherapy significantly affects gonads in both males and females. According to Qu, Itoh and Sakabe, chemotherapy can directly damage spermatogenesis in male testis either permanently or temporarily. However, the androgen production by the testis after chemotherapy is often less affected making it possible for males to regain their fertility after chemotherapy. Armuand and colleagues advance that the degree of damage to gonadal stem cells in males vary based on the type of chemotherapy drugs used, the route of administration (whether intravenous or oral), the dosage taken as well as the treatment regimen. Often the alkylating agents in the chemotherapy drugs are the most proven toxic agents associated with the impact to the gonads and often leave individuals with significantly low sperm counts after the treatment, a condition referred to as azoospermia.