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Why Bank Sperm as a Testicular Cancer Patient? About Sperm Banking...

Penis AnatomyWhy bank sperm? If you are about to start treatment for testicular cancer, we encourage you to look into sperm banking before undergoing radiation or chemotherapy, as both these treatments have a high likelihood of destroying your fertility. The best way to maximize your chances of conceiving genetic children down the road is to bank sperm prior to treatment.

When sperm is frozen or "cryopreserved," the sperm cells enter a state of suspended animation, and all sperm activity is essentially halted until thawing. After thawing, a percent of the sperm revive and return to the pre-freeze state. While the freezing process will kill a significant percentage of sperm, the surviving sperm can be thawed and used for insemination purposes as many as fifty years later. Cryopreservation has been in used for many years and is a safe, effective way to preserve sperm. According to the American Association of Tissue Banks, cryopreservation does not appear to alter or damage the genetic material in sperm.

You can either ask your oncologist to recommend a sperm bank in your area, or you can locate banks online (see http://www.spermbankdirectory.com). Most banks will ask you to provide a sperm sample on site through masturbation in a private room. The banks medical technologists will perform a semen analysis and process your sperm for cryopreservation immediately. Even if your fertility has been compromised by ill health and/or medical procedures such as an orchiectomy, it is well worth your while to store what sperm you have. Similarly, even if you only have time to make one visit to a sperm bank before starting treatment, we encourage you to do so. There have been enormous advances in reproductive technologies over the past ten years, and techniques such as ICSI (intercytoplasmic sperm injection) make it possible for successful in vitro fertilization to be achieved using a single sperm cell.

Sperm storage is a simple, accessible, and affordable way for male cancer patients of all ages to keep their reproductive options open, yet oncologists do not always offer counseling and education about fertility issues prior to cancer treatment. One 1999 survey conducted by the Cleveland Clinic Foundation found that only about 50% of cancer patients receive adequate information about their post-treatment reproductive options, and that only about 25% of men eligible to bank sperm do. Given that the survival rate for testicular cancer is so high, quality of life issues such as family building are relevant to literally millions of cancer survivors.

This educational message is courtesy of The Sperm Bank of California (http://www.thespermbankofca.org). For more information on TSBC services please see our website or contact us at info@thespermbankofca.org or 510-841-1858.

Another option for testicular cancer patients is the LIVE:ON sperm banking by mail kit. Click here for details.

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