What is sperm banking?
Sperm banking is the name for the collection and storage of semen. Semen is the fluid that contains sperm. Sperm banking is also known as sperm cryopreservation or semen storage. Some cancer treatments can affect your fertility. This might affect your ability to father children in the future. Collecting sperm before treatment means you might still be able to have children in the future if you want to. The sperm is frozen and stored until you decide you want to use it to have a baby.
Who needs to bank sperm?
You might consider storing sperm if you think you might want to have children in the future and your cancer treatment might prevent this. You need to store sperm before starting treatment. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommend that doctors should offer sperm banking to any man having cancer treatment that may affect their fertility. Teenage boys who have been through puberty can also collect and store sperm. Some men are not well enough to bank sperm. Others may not be able to bank sperm if they have a type of cancer that needs treatment as soon as it is diagnosed. This includes some types of leukaemia and lymphoma. If treatment needs to start quickly there may not be enough time. Or there may only be time to collect one sample. Some kinds of cancer can affect the quality and number of sperm you produce. A laboratory will analyse your first sample, to check the quality and number of sperm.
If your sperm count is low
You can still bank sperm if your sperm count is low. A technique called intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) uses a single sperm to fertilise an egg in a test tube. So you may still be able to father a child in the future.