Men are notorious for delaying doctor visits, an incredibly bad habit considering the average age of a testicular cancer diagnosis is 33, according to the American Cancer Society. (Here are the signs of cancer men are likely to ignore.) About 7 percent of cases of this type of cancer occurs in children and teens. What’s worse, rates of testicular cancer are on the rise in the U.S. “Men should have annual check-ups and their testes should be looked at during this exam,” says Jennifer Hirshfeld-Cytron, MD, a fertility specialist at Fertility Centers of Illinois. “If something is enlarged or doesn’t feel right, make an appointment with your doctor, as this cancer can, and does, strike men in their 20s and 30s.” The good news is that testicular cancer is highly treatable and even curable when caught early. The bad news is that testicular cancer can affect men’s sexual health, and the removal of one testicle plus other treatments for the cancer can decrease fertility, she says. “You can bank sperm before treatment to preserve your chances of becoming a dad one day.”
Fatherhood may not be too high on a young man’s priority list… yet. Even so, there are many things that young men may indulge in today that will affect their ability to sire children tomorrow. “Smoking marijuana is quite detrimental to sperm, and taking steroids to bulk up can also halt sperm production,” says Dr. Hirshfeld-Cytron. All of these things are reversible because sperm regenerates every three months, she says, but men may not be aware of how any of these behaviors affect their health unless they talk to a health care professional. There are other surprising factors that reduce male fertility too.