What is sperm banking?

Sperm banking is the preservation (or saving) of sperm by freezing so that they may be used subsequently for artificial insemination or other assisted reproduction technique. Preservation of sperm is of prime importance for men who are in danger of losing their fertility or having it impaired. Successful sperm preservation gives you the possibility of fathering a child at some later date. Fertility may be damaged by chemotherapy, radiotherapy or by surgery around the reproductive system, such as that carried out for prostate cancer.

There are two possible effects of chemotherapy or radiotherapy:

  • That no sperm will be present after the therapy or
  • That therapy will have the potential to affect the DNA (the genetic component) of the sperm. There is very little information on the possibility of genetic damage or mutations by chemotherapy and how this may manifest to the potential offspring.

When can sperm banking be performed?

Once it is known that cancer is diagnosed, or that any intense form of chemotherapy or radiotherapy involving the testicles is to be administered, sperm banking should be performed immediately. If chemotherapy or radiotherapy has begun, we can still store sperm, but it is less satisfactory then because we will not know if any damage has occurred to the existing sperms. If no sperms are then seen, it will not be easy to determine whether this was the effect of the treatment or whether the absence of sperm had been present before treatment.

Is there a fee for sperm storage?

Yes there is certain charge to the patient for sperm storage.

For how long can the sperms be kept?

The statutory storage period is 10 years, but this can be extended with your consent for a total of 55 years. Every 10 years your medical practitioner will need to validate the need for continued storage and provide a letter to extend the storage period.

Is there any damage to the sperms upon freezing?

Once stored, the sperm sample quality should not be affected over time. However, in every sample frozen, there is a certain amount of damage to the sperm cells resulting in death of some of the sperms.