What Is The Best Timing For Sperm Storage?
The option to bank (store) sperm should be discussed as early as possible after a diagnosis of cancer, as it is best to collect semen before treatment begins. Nevertheless, sperm samples could be safely collected during the first few days of chemotherapy or radiation treatments. Although chemotherapy and radiation can damage the genetic material in developing sperm, the mature sperm found in a man’s semen are resistant to damage.
Will Banking Sperm Delay My Medical Treatment?
Fortunately, storing semen samples does not have to delay the start of medical treatment. It is the best to collect a specimen after 48 hours of abstinence from sexual activity. Although sperm constantly are being produced in the testes, it takes some time to replenish the sperm level after each ejaculation. To allow recovery of maximum semen volume, the second sample should be collected after another 48 hours of abstinence. If scheduling of a medical treatment does not allow that much time, waiting 24 hours between collections is usually enough. Men usually are advised to store several samples, but preserving even one may be worthwhile.
What Influences Semen Quality?
Semen quality is measured in several ways mainly by the sperm count (number of sperm cells present in one milliliter fluid) and the sperm motility (the activity of the sperm cells). Semen quality can be damaged temporarily or permanently. Men who recently have been diagnosed with cancer often have poorer semen quality than usual. A high fever or recent exposure to toxic chemotherapy for cancer or radiation therapy aimed near the testes. A man’s age has only minor influence on semen quality, but being a heavy smoker or abusing alcohol sometimes can interfere. Semen quality also varies with each ejaculated specimen.
Is It Worth Banking Semen If The Quality Is Not Optimal?
With modern infertility treatments, it makes sense to bank sperm even if you have low sperm quality. New techniques of in vitro fertilization
often can achieve pregnancy by injecting just one live sperm cell into an egg. Men with better semen quality may be able to use their samples to create a pregnancy by simple insemination of their partner, a much less expensive and involved procedure than going through in vitro fertilization.
How Many Samples Should Be Prepared?
If semen quality is high enough to permit artificial insemination as your eventual choice of fertility treatment, the chance of a successful pregnancy will increase with the number of samples you bank. If the treatment will be in vitro fertilization, one sample may be enough, but it is still a good idea to store several samples. For each pregnancy that you desire, you should bank between three and six specimens, depending on their quality.
How Long Can Sperm Be Safely Stored?
Samples of semen do not deteriorate even over many years of deep freezing. Banking sperm before cancer treatment may allow a teenager or a young adult to become father years later, when he is ready to start a family. For a man who is about to have a vasectomy, therapeutic sperm baking provides an option to father a child if his life circumstances change.
Does Using Cryopreserved Sperm Increase The Risk Of Birth Defects?
No. Among thousands of children who have been conceived with frozen sperm, the incidence of birth defects has been no different than that among children conceived through sexual intercourse.
Will My Children Be Healthy?
Men diagnosed with cancer may have special concerns about the health of their children. Most types of cancer are not inherited from father to child. Studies of children conceived after a parent’s cancer treatments do not find any unusual rates of birth defects or cancer. However, there are a few types of cancer that can run in families. Your doctors can tell you whether your cancer falls into this group. If so, you may want to talk with a genetic counselor (a professional with special training in educating people about inherited health problems) and discuss possible health risks for your future childrene.
If I Am Sexually Active, Should I Use Birth Control During Cancer Treatment?
Yes. After the first few days of cancer treatment, doctors often suggest that you use some type of birth control to prevent starting a pregnancy with damaged sperm. In general, you should continue to use some type of contraceptive method to prevent pregnancy during your cancer treatment and at least for six months afterwards. You cannot assume you are infertile.
How Would I Withdraw My Samples?
When you are ready to use stored sperm for infertility treatment, you must notify our laboratory at least 5 days in advance. A specimen order form should be completed indicating the number of vials needed and the name of the physician to be shipped to. A notarized Authorization of Release should accompany this order form. You or your legally appointed executor must also complete a release form.
For more information about cancer and infertility, please visit: FertileHope