Sperm storage is beneficial and should be considered in these cases:
Vasectomy is considered one of the methods for male contraception. Although microscopic vasectomy reversal could be used to reverse it; results of this procedure are highly variable. Sperm storage prior to the vasectomy operation offers a reliable method for storing sperm in case you decide to have children in the future.
Pre-cancer Treatment (i.e. chemotherapy, radiation, surgery)
Cancer itself can cause infertility. For example, some men with testicular cancer and Hodgkin’s disease have low sperm counts even before treatment starts. Cancer treatments can also cause infertility. Chemotherapy, radiation and surgery can all affect your reproductive system. In general, the higher the dose and the longer the treatment, the higher the chance for reproductive problems. Age, the type of drugs, the location of radiation and other factors can influence your risk. An option to preserve a man's potential to father his own children at some future time is to freeze, or to store, samples of sperm before cancer treatment begins.
Making the choice to bank sperm is very personal. If you are married or in a committed relationship, it is the best if your partner is involved in your decision. If you are under age 18, your parents should be included in the discussion. Unfortunately, a man often has to make up his mind quickly, at a time when he may be facing a serious illness. Please visit cancer patient storagesection for frequently asked questions about sperm storage in cancer patients.
In light of the current reports about the sexual transmission of the Zika virus and the devastating consequences on the offspring, men who are planning to travel to an area with active Zika virus transmission are strongly encouraged to consider semen banking. Health Canada currently recommends that men should not initiate a pregnancy for six months after travelling to a Zika virus active region. Men who bank their semen prior to travel will be able to freely use these samples to build their family without any concerns regarding the transmission of the Zika virus.
Advanced Paternal Age
Current social trends point to men electing to have children later in life. The medical literature in recent years demonstrated a growing attention in the effect that advanced paternal age may have on the offspring. It has been postulated that the offspring of older men are more prone to a wide range of disorders, specifically, cancer, autism and schizophrenia.
There is obvious need for more research in this area, nevertheless current data highlight that fathers above 35 – 40 years are at increased risk of having offspring with certain disorders. Although the described frequencies of these risks are small, they are increasingly detectable. Therefore, it is prudent to recommend sperm banking to men who are considering to postpone having children until later in life.
Here is an excellent article from McLean's about the Paternal Age Effect.
Prior to Assisted Reproductive Techniques
In patients who are undergoing an assisted reproductive technique (insemination, in vitro fertilization or intracytoplasmic sperm injection), the need to provide a semen specimen on the day of the procedure may be a limiting factor. The benefit of storing sperm is to ensure that the specimen will be available on the day of the procedure regardless of the availability of the male partner.
Extended Travel or Absence Ovulation Time
Fertilization can only occur around the ovulation time in the female menstrual cycle. Male partners who continuously travel can easily miss this limited time frame. Again, the benefit of storing sperm in these cases is to ensure that the specimen will be available around the ovulation time.
High-risk Occupations (i.e. Military, Firemen, Policemen, Athlete's)
Men in high-risk occupations are exposed to certain agents such as contaminants, pollution, biological and chemical agents that could affect their fertility. Also, in some occupations the risk of testicular injury may be encountered. For these occupations, sperm storage offers peace of mind and the guaranteed potential of fathering children.
Occasionally, therapeutic sperm banking is recommended in other situations when a man's fertility could be damaged by surgery, medical treatments or exposure to a toxic environment. If you are not sure whether a medical treatment could damage your fertility, please discuss this issue with your physician.