What's catholic teaching on cryogenic sperm banking for fertility purposes?

I’m catholic in my early 20s and was recently diagnosed with leukemia. My doctor told me with my treatments there is roughly a 50% chance of becoming infertile and recommended that I look into sperm banking although it is completely up to me. Is it morally acceptable for me to bank my sperm since I will be undergoing chemotherapy that has the potential to make me infertile? It would obviously never be donated to anyone else and only be used inside of marriage. I know catholic teaching is against in vitro-fertilization and I would never consider this option. I am unable to find any unanimous catholic consensus on this issue and am very concerned. Thanks for your help.

Well, what do you think they do with sperm that has been “banked”? They use it in in-vitro, homologous or heterologous artificial insemination (AI), or other artificial conception technologies, all against Church teaching. There is no purpose in “banking” sperm if you already know you cannot use it in artificial conception attempts.

I am sorry that you are going through this at your age, and that your doctors are encouraging you to do something that will perhaps tempt you in the future to do things against Catholic teaching.

I don’t understand your reply. If I am infertile in several years and use artificial insemination with my wife to conceive a child I am pro creating life within my family. Frankly, I don’t think you know what you are talking about.

I am sorry for your diagnosis, please be assured of my prayers for your health.

It is my understanding that sperm banking involves masturbation and future insertion of sperm into your wife. Conception of children needs to involve sexual intercourse with the marital act with the husband ejaculating inside his wife.

This, however, probably does not bring you a lot of comfort. You are so young and you are recently sick and you are worried about your future. I could quote you church documents and it probably would just sound “preachy” and what good would that do? You are young and you are worried and you want to be a father someday! That is a natural and wonderful desire to have!

I would urge you to talk with a priest or deacon that you are close to. Please seek the Sacrament and get the Anointing of the Sick for healing. Clearly you have a desire to do the right thing and to be a Holy Man of God because you are here, that is a wonderful thing. So many young men your age would just go to the sperm bank without even giving it a second thought, here you are seeking answers trying to do God’s will in the midst of your suffering. God bless you for that! You really must be a special person, I wish you all the best in your life and in your journey of life and faith. Please take care as best as you can.

Another suggestion: adoption.:slight_smile:

Actually, you don’t want her to know what she is talking about. But she does. And what she says is true.

Pro-life doesn’t mean creating a baby at all costs.

Very sorry for the terrible news. Lets hope and pray all goes very well for you with this.

To get to your question - the most certain answer is no such would not be moral to do but would be gravely sinful. For such is outside of the martial act as well as contrary to life due to the destruction of children in the process involved later.




With prayer -BC


Catholicism officially opposes the use of donor sperm on the basis that it compromises the sexual unity of the marital relationship and the idea “that the procreation of a human person be brought about** as the fruit of the conjugal act** specific to the love between spouses.” (emphsis mine)

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: Instruction on Dignitas Personae on Certain Bioethical Questions, para. 12, quoting Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction Donum vitae, II, B, 4: AAS 80 (1988), 92., and Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction Donum vitae, Introduction, 3: AAS 80 (1988), 75.

You will be in my prayers. Please keep us up to date on your continuing prognosis.

As others have said, the Church objects to the practice of sperm banking because it requires mortal sin. The sperm is harvested through immoral means (masturbation) and the woman is inseminated outside of the marital act which is also against the teachings of the Church. Also, I know I’m not a doctor and I don’t want to disagree with your doctor’s medical opinion since he knows more about your specific situation, but are you quite sure that he said you had a 50% chance of becoming completely infertile, or did he say that you have a 50% chance of having decreased fertility? Those are pretty different situations. One suggests that you cannot have any children and the other suggests that you might have to work a little harder to get them. I only ask because that diagnosis is inconsistant with my experience with other men who have had chemo treatments.

Please forgive me for replying to a post that was addressed to someone else.

1ke is right on this, it is immoral to create a baby through artificial methods - this is official Catholic teaching.

It’s a hard teaching and it took me a long time to start to grasp the logic behind this hard teaching. The logic behind it is this: it is incompatible with the human dignity of a human person, to be created through some other method than the loving embrace of his/her parents.

Actually the Catholic Church holds the sexual intimacy of husband and wife in high esteem. They become one through their loving embrace, through the marital act, and the baby is the fruit of their loving embrace.

It is immoral and incompatible with the dignity of the baby, to create the baby in a Petri dish (in vitro fertilization), or by some doctor injecting sperm from some syringe into the mother’s body (as in artificial insemination).

First, I’m very sorry for your illness.

It’s also my understanding that eggs are often distroyed during the process. And sometimes fertilized eggs can acidently or purpouslly be aborted during the artificial insemination process.

So even if the Church viewed the masturbation as OK in this situation and non-sexual act OK in this case; the distruction of eggs and possible aborted fertilized eggs makes the enitre process immoral.

I know that people want to have their own children. I personally didn’t understand for a while why this is wrong in the eyes of the Church. But after learning more, I realize that it’s in line with Catholic teaching and makes lots of sense. There are also many children in orphanages who need loving parents. Before this was possible, parents who wanted children had no choice but to adopt. But now, with in vitro; those innocent children of Christ are without parents (I don’t know the numbers), but I know that some people with try this before they will even consider adopting.

As a young, fellow Catholic, feel free to Private Message me if you would like to chat more.

In the meantime, I will pray for you.

God Bless.

I am sorry to be the one to break the news to you that homologous artificial insemination is a grave offense against the 6 th commandment.

I refer you to the Catechism along with church documents Donum Vitae and Dignitas Personae for the details.

I’m not a theologian, but I’m not sure this is entirely clear cut based on facts in evidence. If the OP is currently not married, I can’t see any path morally open here. If he’s married though, there might be a path not yet discussed.

First, the morality as I understand it. Both conventional artificial insemination (medical turkey baster) and in vitro are immoral on the grounds that parents are to understand children (and children to understand themselves) as the outcome of the loving union of said parents who are living up to their identity as being created in God’s image and likeness (able to bring forth new life). Perceiving the creation of life as a mere laboratory process is innately degrading and harmful to human flourishing.

But I thought I’d heard a certain proposal thought to deal with the problems normally inherent in artificial insemination:

  1. Sperm collection. Masturbation is never morally licit. But semen can be collected licitly (say for fertility testing) if the man wears a condom (with a modest hole in the end) and has relations with his wife (see why this falls apart if he’s single?).
  2. Petri dish vs. Loving Creation. If said semen is stored, possibly several batches collected and combined and THEN inseminated into the wife in proximate combination with natural relations (infertile doesn’t mean impotent!), the inclination to understand embryo as lab experiment instead of human being is dissipated. Who’s to say if the race-winning swimmer came from the stored batch or fresh?

The above sounds almost absurdly convoluted and yet may actually address all the major moral issues. At root, the Church really wants us to understand that marriage, sexual intimacy and procreation aren’t separate topics, but one whole that can’t be intentionally divvied up without degrading the components in the process. The above precautions retain the whole rather than breaking it up into pieces, so perhaps mission accomplished?

I’m sorry MM, but insemination is intrinsically disordered. It can never be morally done, including homologous AI. The Church defines homologous AI as:

b) Homologous artificial insemination: the technique used to obtain a human conception through the transfer into the genital tracts of a married woman of the sperm previously collected from her husband.


Having looked it up, the catechism does seem to back you up. Not sure I’ve wrapped my head around why if the couple makes love normally and shortly thereafter (as in minutes) the additional semen is added that this is considered a de-coupling of procreation from sexual union, but I will attempt to ponder it further.

The USCCB says the Church has not ruled on IUI where the sperm is collected through marital relations.


It is “neither approved or disapproved”. It is open to our individual judgement.

God Bless

Such is not what is being discussed --it should be noted.

Yes we have discussed IUI quite a bit. Not in this thread, but one of the identical three others started by the OP.

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