How does sperm banking work?
Find out why people with cancer have their sperm frozen, how the process works, how long it can be stored for and what you have to do.
- Having cancer can affect your fertility (ability to have children, now or in the future)
- This depends on things like the type of cancer you have, your age and the treatment you have
- Read on to find out more about sperm banking as a fertility preservation option
Why do people with cancer bank their sperm?
Depending on the type of cancer and the treatment you have, your sperm count might be affected.
People have their sperm ‘banked’ or stored so they can use it in the future. This could either be to inseminate their partner, or as part of the IVF (in vitro fertilisation) process where the sperm is used to fertilise an egg outside the body and then it’s transferred into the womb as an embryo.
You may not need to use your banked sperm in the future if your sperm count isn’t reduced by your treatment.
Do I need to bank my sperm before I start my cancer treatment?
It may be possible to freeze your sperm after you have completed cancer treatment or if you relapse. This depends on a number of things such as whether you still need it, if you’re well enough for the procedure, when you had your last dose of chemotherapy and what your sperm count is. Your clinical care team can refer you to a fertility specialist if you want to find out more.
What will I have to do when banking my sperm?
Sperm banking is usually done by masturbating and ejaculation. You can do this at the fertility clinic in a private room or you might be able to do this at home and bring it into the lab. If your sperm count is very low you might have to give multiple samples.
What happens if I’m not able to produce a sample on the day?
If you’re not able to do it on the day you might be able to reschedule the appointment and try another day. If you’re still not able to produce a sample there might be other options, you should speak to your care team or a fertility specialist to find out more.
Will I have to have any tests or procedures before banking my sperm?
You may be asked to have blood tests for Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and HIV before the sperm banking process starts. Once you’ve produced a sample it will also be looked at to check your sperm count.
How long can sperm be kept frozen for?
You can store your sperm for up to 55 years, but you will be asked to renew your consent to storage every 10 years. It’s really important that your clinic has your up-to-date contact so you can renew consent every 10 years. If you move house, make sure you let them know. If a clinic cannot contact you then your eggs, sperm and embryos may be disposed of. This is even if you consented for more than 10 years storage.
If you had sperm in storage before 1 July 2022 and your consent is due to expire before June 2024, because your eggs have been in storage for 10 years, your clinic has until 30 June 2023 to contact you about reconsenting to store for another 10 years.