QUESTION: I am a 28 year old male and about to start treatment for Hodgkin's disease. I understand that some treatments can cause fertility problems. How would I learn more about the process of sperm banking?
ANSWER: Therapeutic sperm banking, the process of storing sperm in a sperm bank before starting radiation or chemotherapy, is an option available to any man - married or not - who is concerned about the possible side effect of infertility.
Sperm banks are facilities at a limited number of health-care institutions where sperm are frozen and stored in liquid-nitrogen-cooled refrigerators. Commercial sperm banks are available in some cities.
The general recommendation is that men collect three specimens prior to the start of chemotherapy, with 24-72 hours of abstinence before and between each collection. Patients who can collect only a single specimen, and those who have low sperm counts or sperm with poor motility, should also sperm bank as there are new reproductive techniques to fertilize eggs despite these limitations. Once the specimen is frozen, it can be stored for many years, until the patient is ready to use it.
There are costs involved with sperm banking - fees for freezing, storing and retrieving sperm for the donor. Costs vary among institutions, and some portions are covered by some insurance companies. Since most physicians want patients to start cancer treatment shortly after diagnosis, it is important to locate a sperm bank as soon as possible to begin the sperm banking process.
Talk with your oncologist about sperm banking prior to starting your treatment they can direct you to local resources. The Livestrong Fertility program https://www.livestrong.org/tags/fertile-hope is a good resource for additional information about sperm banking, location of sperm banks near you and financial support options.
Note: We strongly encourage you to talk with your health care professional about your specific medical condition and treatments. The information contained in this website is meant to be helpful and educational, but is not a substitute for medical advice.