Banking Sperm Before Testicular Cancer Treatment

Understanding the process and cost of semen cryopreservation

For many men undergoing treatment for testicular cancer, the ability to conceive a child is a top concern. Though many men will be able to father children naturally following surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy, there is no way to predict who may or may not experience impaired fertility or infertility after treatment. To preserve their chances of conceiving, many men explore the option of sperm banking, in which samples of semen are collected and frozen until such time as they decide to have children.

Couple sitting on couch talking to another adult
Jupiterimages / Getty Images

Planning in Advance

Before undergoing treatment, it is important that you immediately express your desire to have children to your oncologist. Your healthcare provider will offer advice about what options may be available to preserve your fertility and refer you to a fertility specialist who has experience in treating men who have undergone testicular cancer treatment.

It will likely that sperm banking will be part of the treatment plan. This is a common, noninvasive procedure but one that needs to be started fairly quickly. Sperm banking should be done before surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy, allowing the healthiest and greatest number of sperm to be stored.

Despite its benefits, sperm banking remains an underutilized procedure. According to a 2018 review in Investigative and Clinical Urology, less than a quarter of eligible men are offered sperm banking as an option by their oncologists.

This leaves it up to you, as the patient, to take the first step in asking about sperm banking if your healthcare provider fails to do so.

How It Is Performed

Sperm banking, also known as semen cryopreservation, involves the storage of semen at very low temperatures. It is performed in a specialized fertility center with the facilities to check and store the sperm samples soon after collection.

Prior to the procedure, you will be screened for infectious diseases and may be given a physical exam. If you name a recipient, some states require that she be screened for infectious diseases as well.

A semen sample will be requested and assessed for sperm count and motility. If either or both are too low, you may be advised of other fertility options.

If the sample is viable, several additional samples will be collected. This requires you to masturbate in a private room on separately scheduled visits. In some cases, you may be allowed to collect samples at home in a sterile lab container as long as you deliver it to the center within one hour.

A minimum of three semen samples are generally needed for banking. Before giving a sample, you should abstain from sex for 24 to 48 hours.

Once collected, the sperm is cooled to 41 F (5 C) and quickly frozen to a temperature of -112 F (-80 C). The sample is then plunged into liquid nitrogen, further freezing it at a temperature of -320.8 F (-196 C).

Your sperm can be stored for an unlimited amount of time after cryopreservation. Even after decades of storage, the quality, number, and motility of sperm should not be adversely affected. When needed, the semen is gently thawed at 37 F for around 10 to 15 minutes.

The cost of sperm banking can vary, with the initial screening costs and healthcare provider fees ranging from $350 to several thousand dollars. You can then expect to pay an annual storage fee of between $250 to $600. Some health insurance plans cover some or all of the cost of the initial services if you are diagnosed with testicular cancer. Check with your insurance provider prior to the start of the banking procedure.

A Word From Verywell

Sperm cryopreservation is an excellent option for men who know they would like to have children and those who are undecided. Testicular cancer often strikes men at a young age, so storing sperm allows them to leave their family planning options open. 

Testicular Cancer Doctor Discussion Guide

Get our printable guide for your next healthcare provider's appointment to help you ask the right questions.

Doctor Discussion Guide Man
2 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Machen GL, Harris SE, Bird ET, et al. Utilization of cryopreserved sperm cells based on the indication for storage. Investig Clin Urol. 2018;59(3):177-81. doi:10.4111/icu.2018.59.3.177

  2. Di Santo M, Tarozzi N, Nadalini M, Borini A. Human sperm cryopreservation: update on techniques, effect on DNA integrity, and implications for ART. Adv Urol. 2012;2012:854837. doi:10.1155/2012/854837

By Lisa Fayed
Lisa Fayed is a freelance medical writer, cancer educator and patient advocate.