Definition - What does Gonadal Shielding mean?
Gonadal shielding is a procedure which helps to preserve a person’s fertility by preventing damage to the reproductive organs while undergoing radiation therapy. A shield is placed on the outside of the body, specifically the gonadal region; for men— the prostate, penis, and testicles, and for women— the fallopian tubes, ovaries, uterus cervix, and vagina.
The proximity of the radiation target site to the genital region can result in scatter radiation to the area, which can significantly impair spermatogenesis and oogenesis, compromising fertility.
FertilitySmarts explains Gonadal Shielding
When gonadal shielding was introduced it was widely accepted as a good practice, but the efficacy of the practice has come into question. There has been growing evidence showing that it provides little to no benefit, for many different reasons including improper placement.
Some suggest that additional training is required for radiation specialists, while others are calling for newer and better methods of decreasing radiation to these regions.
Although it is not completely effective, the shield is thought to reduce the dosage of radiation to the reproductive organs. One study reveals the there was a 36.4% increase in exposure to the testes when no contact shield was used.