Updated February 2019
Sperm banking—which can be done during or after a vasectomy reversal—is the collection, freezing, and storage of healthy sperm. Cryopreservation (freezing) and cryobanking (storage) can provide a useful backup if a vasectomy reversal procedure is not successful. While the decision to perform sperm retrieval is optional, it may prove especially beneficial if your vasectomy surgeon believes they may have to perform an epididymovasostomy.
Sperm can be collected at three different times:
- During the surgery (if whole, motile sperm are present at the time of the reversal procedure)
- After a vasectomy reversal via ejaculate (in case sperm quality decreases later on)
- During a separate surgery known as surgical sperm collection (used if or when a reversal fails)
Sperm banking with a vasectomy reversal
If sperm banking is desired during a vasectomy reversal, a surgeon can draw sperm from three different sources:
- Fluid from the vas deferens (the tube that carries sperm to the semen)
- Fluid from the epididymis (the location on the testicle where the sperm mature)
- From a small piece of tissue taken right out of the testicle, although this method is only useful for IVF (in vitro fertilization) and ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection)
Cost of sperm banking
In order to use banked sperm, some form of assisted reproduction (such as in vitro fertilization or artificial insemination) is necessary. These costs, along with sperm banking, may or may not be covered by your health insurance.
Sperm banking services are provided by private laboratories, hospitals, and university medical centers. While your local costs may vary, the estimated cost of sperm banking includes:
- freezing a single ejaculate: $500 to $700
- storage: $300 to $1,000 per year
Cost-effectiveness of sperm banking during a vasectomy reversal
A small percentage of vasectomy reversal procedures fail to effectively return sperm to the ejaculate. There's also a small chance someone who undergoes a successful reversal may later become infertile due to scarring or decreased sperm quality. Thus, sperm banking during a vasectomy reversal can be a useful backup (although one study found only 15 percent of couples ended up using their banked sperm).
The extra costs of sperm retrieval during reversal surgery (along with banking) range from $653 to $2,800. Many urologists include the acquisition of sperm in the cost of the vasectomy reversal procedure. Be sure to talk to your doctor about your options; in some cases, it may be more cost-effective to wait to see if the reversal procedure was successful before choosing sperm retrieval and banking.
Choosing a sperm bank
It's also important to choose a facility that ranks highly for quality and medical integrity. Check a sperm bank's accreditation before providing and storing a sample.
Universities and state or federally funded sperm banking programs must meet rigorous professional and regulatory standards, inspections, and certifications. These include:
- American Association of Tissue Banks
- American Society for Reproductive Medicine
- Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments
- Commission on Office Laboratory Accreditation
Boyle KE, Thomas AJ Jr, Marmar JL, et al. Sperm harvesting and cryopreservation during vasectomy reversal is not cost effective. Fertil Steril. 2006; 85(4):961-4.
Cutie CJ, et al. Patient information: Vasectomy (Beyond the Basics).
Glazier DB, Marmar JL, Mayer E, et al. The fate of cryopreserved sperm acquired during vasectomy reversals. J Urol. 1999; 161(2):463-6.
Kolettis PN, Fretz P, Burns JR, et al. Secondary azoospermia after vasovasostomy. Urology. 2005; 65(5):968-71.
Mulcahy, N. Transient patency is a problem after vasovasostomy. Urology Times. 2005; 33(1):10.
van Dongen J, Tekle FB, van Roijen JH. Pregnancy rate after vasectomy reversal in a contemporary series: influence of smoking, semen quality and post-surgical use of assisted reproductive techniques. BJU Int. 2012;110(4):562-7.