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Friday, February 15, 2013

Sperm banking education and information important for men with cancer and risk of infertility.

The uses of sperm banking are immense. It is useful where a woman’s partner is infertile or has been diagnosed with a genetic disease. Also, it can be used to make pregnancy possible through artificial insemination even when a woman has no partner. When a man is diagnosed with cancer, sperm banking is usually recommended. This is because the risk of long-term infertility from treatments such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy is highly possible. This infertility could be permanent or temporary depending on the individual’s circumstances, that is why it is essential that men who have banked their sperms prior to undergoing cancer treatment need to undertake continuous follow-up checkups in order to assess their fertility status and maybe make sure their sperm at the bank is not disposed of. On the other hand, most men fail to do so, and this due to several factors which include lack of adequate information and pessimism.

New strategies for sperm banking education and information necessary.

The problem, according to Dr Allan Pacey and Professor Christine Eiser at the University of Sheffield, is that a large proportion of male cancer patients are
Sperm cells that are banked prior to cancer therapy give assurance of future fertility. Flickr.com/Futurowoman
missing out on appropriate fertility advice. The reasons they store their sperm at sperm banks and fail to make necessary follow-ups might be because they had suffered fewer side-effects post therapy, had a more negative experience of sperm banking or were negative towards sperm disposal and storage.

When a man is diagnosed with cancer, it is often recommended that he banks his sperm. The possibility exists that the sperm could be donated to other women in the future and hence the need for proper diagnosis. The case of a Danish sperm donor who passed severe genetic disorder to five children after tests did not detect it is striking. The clinic was even lax to act on evidence after a baby was diagnosed with the disorder. Hence, cryobanks carry out extensive tests on donated sperm. It is believed that most men are overwhelmed by the amount of information on diagnosis. Because the tests focus on cancer, they could be confused about the implications of treatment for their future fertility. If a man is pessimistic about recovery from cancer, it would be to his advantage to bank his sperm as an assurance that he could be able to father a child in the future.

Being told that you might lose your fertility could cause anxiety. If asked to go for constant fertility monitoring, many could see this as an intrusion into their daily lives. That is why providing them with adequate information is important. They want the reassurance that they can recover their fertility after cancer treatment, to restore their “male pride.” So, there is a kind of psychological advantage to a man when he is told that even if he loses his fertility post-cancer treatment, he could fall back on stored sperm. Some men are also reluctant to follow-up on checkup after banking their sperms because they do not know the fate of those banked samples. It could even take several years before any woman would need their donated sperms.

There is then a need for education about sperm banking, a need for making information about the uses and options that are available as well as how the sperm could be used or disposed. Laws in the United Kingdom allow for renewal of consent every ten (10) years and a maximum of fifty-five (55) years for banked sperm. Where follow-up checkups are not undertaken, or they do not return for fertility testing, these banked sperms might be destroyed in order to relieve the sperm banks of the costs associated with long-term storage of banked samples that may not be needed for conception, thereby freeing healthcare resources for other uses. Many men do not avail themselves of this knowledge, thereby, impacting on their future life choices and ability to father children. Dr. Pacey and Professor Eiser, cited earlier, believe that what is needed are new education strategies from the time of diagnosis to inform men of the importance of fertility monitoring as well as encouraging more men to attend their follow-up appointments. Clinics can do much in this regard by sending them timely letters highlighting the benefits of attendance.

Conclusions.

Central to whatever strategy that could be pursued are the oncologists. Improving the line of communication between the oncology department and the sperm banks is important. As noted earlier, because men who have cancer have to juggle between the information for their cancer treatments and sperm banking requirements, they might be inundated by so much information. The issues involved might be masked in other concerns. Hence, the need for these men to have a clinician who is ready to answer their anxious questions; they should be encouraged to come out with questions.

Granted, when a man is faced with a risk to his life and his ability to reproduce, he needs all the support he can have to make the rights decisions. His anxiety would surely affect his ability to work well and to even make meaningful contributions to society. It is imperative therefore that this segment of society be helped to go through a trying period of their life without impacting on their quality of life.


4 comments:

  1. Sperm donation can make a huge difference to the lives of infertile couples. But many donors and fertility clinics use this concept to earn quick bucks. So sperm banking education and information have become essential for all types of people. The awareness will surely encourage many common people to donate sperms.

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  2. Replies
    1. thanks, dennis. promise to be publishing more of them.

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HI, this article was great.