This information answers some frequently asked questions about sperm banking and provides a list of local sperm banks.
What is sperm banking?
Sperm banking is the collection, freezing, and storage of sperm for possible use in the future.Back to top
Why should I do this?
Many cancer treatments damage the cells that grow into sperm. If you are no longer able to produce sperm, you will be infertile. This means that you will not be able to have a biologic child. Sometimes these cells recover, but sometimes they do not. We cannot say for certain how your treatment will affect your future fertility.
You may not be thinking about being a father right now. However, one day this may be important to you. Sperm banking before treatment will increase your chance of being able to father a child in the future using your own sperm. Many young men who did not bank sperm before treatment regret this decision if they are infertile when they want to start a family. Many say they wish they had been pushed more by their families and doctors to do this. Because of this, we encourage all teens and young men to bank their sperm before treatment that may affect fertility.Back to top
Where can I do this?
Sperm banking is usually done at a licensed laboratory or fertility center. A number of local sperm banks are listed at the end of this resource.
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How do I do this?
Once you select a sperm bank, call to make your first appointment. Explain to them that you will be starting cancer treatment. Think about who you will feel most comfortable being with when you go. This may be your parents, a friend, your spouse or partner, or someone else. You may prefer to go alone.
When you arrive, you will be given a number of forms to complete and will then be brought to a small private room for the collection.
After washing and drying your hands, you will stimulate yourself to ejaculation by masturbating. The fluid that comes out of your penis is called semen, and it contains your sperm. You will collect the semen in a sterile cup. Do not use saliva, spit, or lubricants to masturbate, as these can destroy the sperm. You can ask for mineral oil if this will help you to ejaculate, but use this only at the base of your penis to avoid mixing it in with your semen.
Some men are not able to ejaculate by masturbating because they feel too sick, are in too much pain, feel too embarrassed or distressed, or are not allowed to masturbate because of religious or cultural beliefs. If you feel you cannot collect a specimen by masturbating, please tell your doctor or nurse. There are other methods of collecting sperm, and we can discuss these options with you.Back to top
When should I do this?
You must bank your sperm before you begin treatment. If your treatment does not have to start immediately, we suggest you collect 3 specimens. For the first collection, it is best if you don’t ejaculate through intercourse or masturbation for 2 to 5 days before the collection. Then, skip 2 to 3 days between each collection. This will help you collect the highest possible number of sperm.
If your treatment will be starting too soon for this timing, you can begin collecting immediately and schedule the collections with only 1 day between each one. Even collecting only 1 or 2 specimens is worthwhile, because there are new techniques available to fertilize eggs with very few sperm.
If you will be having a scan with a radioactive isotope, such as a positron emission tomography (PET) scan, you can’t collect for 24 hours after the scan. Keep this in mind when scheduling your appointments with the sperm bank.Back to top
What if I am not able to collect at a sperm bank?
If you feel you cannot collect a specimen at a sperm bank, some sperm banks will allow you to collect at home. They will give you a sterile cup for this.
If you are in the hospital, you will need to collect the specimen in your hospital room. We have arranged with one of the sperm banks in New York to pick up the specimen for a small fee and bring it to their laboratory for processing.
If you are having a family member or friend transport the specimen to the sperm bank, the specimen must be delivered within 60 minutes of collection. It should be put in a pocket close to the body to keep it at body temperature.Back to top
What does the sperm bank do with the specimen?
The sperm bank will analyze your semen, counting the number of sperm. They will divide the specimen into small vials and freeze the sperm for storage. Some sperm die during the freezing and thawing process. However, the sperm that survive are not damaged while they are frozen.
Sperm can be stored for as long as you want, even for many years. You will have to pay a yearly storage fee as long as the sperm bank holds your specimens. We recommend you consider storing these until you have completed building your family.
You will need to complete a form to indicate what you want done with your specimens in case something happens to you in the future, such as if you were to die unexpectedly. This is to ensure your wishes are honored.
If you are considering discarding your sperm, talk with your doctor first to ensure you will not need any additional treatment.Back to top
How much will this cost?
Most insurance plans do not cover sperm banking. The cost varies from one sperm bank to another. The cost in the New York area ranges from about $700 to $1,300 for 3 collections, including the first year of storage. The sperm bank may also require that you have blood and urine tests for certain infectious diseases, which may add to the cost.
Ask the sperm bank if they offer discounted rates to cancer patients, either on their own or through the LIVESTRONG Fertility program. To find out if you are eligible through LIVESTRONG and for an application, look on their website: http://images.livestrong.org/downloads/we-can-help/LF_App_Men_FINAL_v4.pdf?_ga=1.113354372.226511752.1413988424.
If the cost of storage after the first year is more than you can afford, you can arrange to transfer the specimens to another sperm bank. Repro Tech provides discounted rates for long-term storage for people with cancer. Visit their website at: www.reprotech.com/financial-assistance.html.Back to top
Where can I learn more?
If you would like additional information, ask your doctor or nurse for a referral to one of our fertility nurse specialists.Back to top
Finding a Sperm Bank
Offers a discounted rate to all cancer patients.