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9 October 2006
Sperm Banks In Need Of Makeover, Says Fertility Expert
by George Atkinson

Sperm banks are in need of a makeover, says Dr. Peter Chan, a reproductive health expert. Even patients suffering from cancer and facing treatments that may make them infertile find them less than enticing, he added; despite the fact that sperm storage can guarantee them a shot at having kids in the future. Private clinics charge between $200-500 per year to bank sperm.

Dr. Chan, from McGill University, has just completed a study examining why sperm banks are such an underused and unpopular resource. Published in the journal Human Reproduction, the study highlights the necessity of improving doctor-patient communication about the benefits of sperm banking, and the need for patient education about the high risk of infertility associated with treatments for testicular cancer and Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Hodgkin's lymphoma and testicular cancer are among the most common malignancies to affect young men of reproductive age. "Testicular cancer accounts for over 25 percent of all cancers diagnosed in men aged 20-24 years, and Hodgkin's lymphoma accounts for about 15 percent in the same age group," said Dr. Chan. While advances in medical technology have made both diseases highly curable, concerns about the high risk of infertility from such treatments remain.

"Sperm banking is the best hope for cancer patients that may wish to father children in the future," said Dr. Chan. But sperm banking remains underutilized and Dr. Chan believes it needs to lift its profile. "We discovered a need for improvement in the way health care professionals present information about sperm banking to patients." The study also highlighted the need for accurate and relevant information about the high risk of infertility associated with various cancer treatments.

Based on material from McGill University

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