Sperm Banking Is A Useful but Underused Tool in Combating Infertility in Cancer Patients

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Sperm banking as a means to preserve fertility in cancer patients is a practical and useful approach, according to James L.  Klosky, PhD, of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in New York. However, according to a recent study, it has been underutilized as a strategy among adolescent male who have been diagnosed with cancer.

The Study

According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, only about half of young men observed in the study attempted to use sperm banks to preserve their fertility.

The study, which examined 146 at-risk males, their parents, and their medical providers from eight different oncology centers in the United States and Canada, had the participants fill out a self-report questionnaire in the first week of their cancer treatment. The average age of the subjects was 16.49 years, with the ages ranging from 13 to 21.99. Out of those males, 43.8% were successful in their effort to bank sperm, with 53.4% making a collection attempt.  This means that there was an 82% success rate.

The reasons given by patients who did not attempt to bank their sperm included lack of knowledge about sperm banks and a belief that it was simply not necessary.  A few subjects reported that they discussed their options before deciding against using a sperm bank. The study also found that individuals who had experimented with masturbation were more likely to successfully bank their sperm.  Subjects were also more likely to attempt to use a sperm bank if it was recommended by a medical team or parent.

What are the benefits of using a sperm bank?

Sperm banking could also be a viable option for men who do not have cancer, but want to preserve their more youthful sperm for future use.  A 2012 study found that older fathers have an increased risk of passing on mutations that could lead to developmental problems in their children, such as schizophrenia and autism.

It is clear from this study that sperm banking can be a useful practice, but many people are not educated on exactly how it works or how beneficial it can be.  This practice is particularly useful for young men who have been diagnosed with cancer that could negatively impact their fertility in their later life.  As acceptance of alternative fertility methods increases, hopefully more men will look to sperm banks as a viable option for preserving fertility and healthy sperm.