Sperm storage, often referred to as ‘sperm banking’ or ‘fertility preservation’ has been provided in Nottingham for many years, usually for patients embarking on a therapy which may render them infertile or sterile. These include:
- Urological surgery e.g. Prostate, Bladder, Testicular Biopsy, Vasectomy
- Spinal Surgery
- Gender re-assignment
- Some men also store sperm as part of a treatment for infertility, although this is not usually ‘long term’.
Requesting Sperm Banking
All patients who require sperm storage should receive the relevant patient information leaflet and must complete a series of legal consent forms before their sperm can be stored. To qualify for NHS funded sperm banking the patient must be referred by a specialist or department, which has agreed to fund it. However, anyone may have their sperm banked and can refer themselves to the unit providing they are willing to pay.
How does is Sperm Banking work?
Semen specimens are provided in the same way as they are for diagnostic semen analysis. The sperm are analysed, mixed with a preservative (cryoprotectant) which protects the sperm during the freezing process, uniquely labelled and stored at ‘ultra-cold’ temperatures (as low as -196°C). The majority of patients are able to keep these in storage for many years.
What if a specimen cannot be provided in the normal way?
Some patients are unable to produce a semen sample for one reason or another e.g. stress, illness, medication. We can provide 2 alternatives:
1. EVS (electro-vibratory stimulation – a vibratory device is applies to the penis which can induce ejaculation in many cases.
2. For those who are not successful using EVS, surgical sperm retrieval (SSR) can occasionally be organised prior to storage but usually as a last resort. In this instance, patients for SSR should attend the fertility unit in order to complete the relevant paperwork/consent forms prior to surgery.
Repeat sperm tests
Fertility can return to some men who are treated with chemo or radiotherapy. This can happen within months of treatment but can take several years. Therefore we advise men to arrange for repeat sperm tests, 8-12 months after treatment and annually thereafter. This is the only way that we can provide accurate advice on either contraception or on achieving a pregnancy.
Patients who have semen samples stored at NUH can make this ‘post-chemotherapy’ appointment themselves by telephoning the laboratory on Tel: 0115 924 9924 Ext: 62749.