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.

Duplicate, also posted in Moral Theology. I answered this question in that forum.

Banking sperm can serve no purpose, as it must be used in an artificial conception technique that is gravely immoral such as IVF, AI, etc. You cannot “do” anything with the sperm that is moral, so banking it seems imprudent.

As far as I am aware the only way you can conceive a child through banked sperm is IVF…there is no way you can take sperm and then put it back into the natural process of marital relations. (I could be wrong…but I’ve not heard of this happening)

Oh and sorry for your diagnosis, will be praying for you!

I am extremely disappointed in your answer. I will be taking medicine that I don’t want to take by choice to cure my cancer and to make a blanket statement that using artificial insemination is always gravely immoral is extremely careless on your part. The latest catechism says in the case of an illness artificial methods are not always sinful. I will be showing your reply to my priest and get his input. Your careless remarks cause me a great deal of stress. Please think before you reply.

Truth_faith13
thanks for your reply. This comment was in response to 1ke

While I understand you are upset about this, taking it out on other posters when we are merely responding to your question is not called for. If you already have the answer, why ask the question?

You are clearly distressed, highlighted by your need to post the same question multiple times, take some time out, focus on the problems at hand (your health), and speak to your priest. It’s a confusing time for you I know, and I am deeply sorry for you but taking it out on others is not going to help.

God bless you

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.

Truth_faith, I’m not referring to you but 1ke, he made a blanket statement that all artificial contraception methods are immoral when the latest catechism of the church is at odds with his statement. It’s easy for an older person to say it’s wrong no matter what but when I am going through difficult times it’s distressing someone does not use all catholic rescources to give a thoughtful answer

I know of the documents you are referring to but according to the latest issue of the catechism if someone has an illness artificial methods are not always sinful, that it depends on the circumstances. I am having toxic drugs injected into me by no choice of my own, and could become infertile. As long as artificial insemination is used with ones wife how could this be immoral? I know it’s easy for an older person to make a blanket statement that masturbation and artificial insemination are wrong in all instances, but I would only be doing this for procreation within my own future family, never for in-vitro and I would never donate the sperm to others.

@johnsayon: 1ke is correct. What the catechism is referring to is helping the body to function properly, i.e., progesterone supplement to help sustain a pregnancy, shots to cause ovulation at a predictable time. What you seem to be referring to involves replacing the marital act with various forms of technology, which by necessity introduces others into the intimate act of the creation of a new human being, which God intended to be between the spouses and Him. The Church has always and wil always oppose that.

Perhaps you could post the sections of the Catechism to which you are referring?

Second, Donum Vitae would seem to make sense for you to review as well.

Well…yes and no. If you look on the infertility thread, it would seem that so long as sperm is collected in a moral manner–ie, using a perforated condom during marital intercourse–IUI, for example, is acceptable. One of the posters there provided a link to a document on that. It’s the same thing with sperm testing: many doctors will only use sperm provided by masturbation, but a Catholic physician, or at least an open-minded one, will accept a sample provided in that same way.

To the OP: yes, perhaps you could post the sections of the Catechism to which you refer? I’d be interested to read them. :slight_smile:

Here is the document from the USCCB which indicates that it has not yet been determined whether IUI is acceptable or not. It would be jumping the gun to say that it is. And furthermore, in the OP’s situation, he appears to be a single young man. There is currently no option for him to have normal intercourse with a wife in order to collect sperm to be used in any method. My suggestion is that the OP contact the National Catholic Bioethics Center which is a reputable and faithful organization, frequently recommended by CA’s professional apologists, that can answer these hard questions about Catholic medical ethics.

@ubi: to which infertility thread are you referring? In the OP’s case, how would IUI not be a substitute for the marital act? We are talking about a future spouse. A person in the OP’s case would presumably still be able to perform the marital act, but that act would be subjectively sterile on the male’s part, assuming that the treatments actually do render the man sterile. I am not sure that it would be licit to replace that marital act with sperm frozen before the couple was even married.

See the USCCB site: IUI (intrauterine insemination) of “licitly obtained” (normal intercourse) but technologically prepared semen sample. The sperm are collected from a perforated condom after normal intercourse, washed, and then
injected into the uterine cavity, bypassing the cervix to avoid “hostile” mucus.

old.usccb.org/LifeGivingLove/Reproductive-Technology-Guidelines.pdf It says it is “old” but it is copyrighted in 2009, so I think it is still accurate.

I am not sure how the sperm in the OP’s case is to be collected; however, I am pretty sure it is not going to be through normal intercourse. IDK if sperm are directly removed from the testes in sperm banking.

I think you may have confused yourself, (or perhaps I am), the OP is single at present so the holes in the condom during marital relations aren’t available. The only way he can harvest sperm at the present time so that it can be frozen (before he becomes infertile through treatment…if indeed this happens) is through masturbation. If he waits until he has a wife he may already be infertile and so there would be no point anyhow.

There are effectively two questions that need to be addressed…

A) if the collection of sperm through masturbation to freeze for future marriage given his health conditions is ok

B) how this sperm is then implanted into a future wife…my understanding is that it is IVF

Only you guys know the churches position on these things…:shrug:

[quote=choose to love;11459179**]@ubi: to which infertility thread are you referring? In the OP’s case, how would IUI not be a substitute for the marital act? We are talking about a future spouse. A person in the OP’s case would presumably still be able to perform the marital act, but that act would be subjectively sterile on the male’s part, assuming that the treatments actually do render the man sterile. I am not sure that it would be licit to replace that marital act with sperm frozen before the couple was even married.
[/quote]

See the USCCB site: IUI (intrauterine insemination) of “licitly obtained” (normal intercourse) but technologically prepared semen sample. The sperm are collected from a perforated condom after normal intercourse, washed, and then
injected into the uterine cavity, bypassing the cervix to avoid “hostile” mucus.

old.usccb.org/LifeGivingLove/Reproductive-Technology-Guidelines.pdf It says it is “old” but it is copyrighted in 2009, so I think it is still accurate.

I am not sure how the sperm in the OP’s case is to be collected; however, I am pretty sure it is not going to be through normal intercourse. IDK if sperm are directly removed from the testes in sperm banking.

I was referring to the sticky at the top of this forum. And no, in the OP’s case (unless I’m misunderstanding, OP, in which case please correct me) this wouldn’t be an option, nor did I say it would be. I only said that certain very specific types of reproductive technology are okay if the sperm is collected a certain way. I apologize for the misconstruction.

Well, looks like elizium and I were responding at the same time.

@truth: I know he is single. I was trying to shift to a “generic” cancer patient since, understandably, the OP is emotionally invested in this issue.

Also, re: harvesting sperm: Sperm donation problems

Some men have trouble when they try to donate sperm. Doctors are sometimes able to help men who have trouble with self-stimulation in a pressured situation, or who do not ejaculate normally. For those men, the doctor may be able to collect semen using electrical stimulation or *microscopic surgery while the man is under anesthesia (given drugs to make him sleep during the surgery). *:

cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/physicalsideeffects/fertilityandcancerwhataremyoptions/fertility-and-cancer-preserving-fertility-men-before-treatment

As to the underlined: Yikes!

As to the italicized: so there may be a licit means to obtain the sperm. Not convinced there is a licit way to use once so obtained.

I say bank 'em.

Not being completely straight with regards to Church’s teaching is worth the joy of having children. Confess once you have a healthy child in your arms and get on with it.

You have a fifty percent chance of not needing them anyway. So save them and if need them, deal with it later.

Not kosher, I know. Not the " right" answer. But you will regret not having the possibility for the rest of your life. It will wreck your life if you want children and can’t.

I will pray that you are one if the lucky 50%.

If you have been around this forum as long as I have, you would know that 1ke knows her stuff and she knows the Catechism quite well.

I am sorry you are going through this, but artificial insemination is never acceptable. I am not sure what passage in the Catechism you are referring to which would indicate that it might be okay in some circumstances.

Think about it this way. The only way to collect the sperm for an unmarried person is through an immoral act (masturbation). Then the sperm is frozen in order to be used later on down the road to create a human life in a lab outside of the marital act (also an immoral act).

We can never do an evil act so that good may come from it. That’s one of the foundational principles of Catholic moral theology.

My answer is similar. My husband is a cancer survivor, and for us it wasn’t even a question whether or not to bank sperm before chemo. (We also filled out paperwork giving me the right to use his sperm should he have not made it). But, we aren’t catholic.

I know you’ve just heard news that has changed your life and come as an enormous shock to you. A cancer diagnosis is rough. You’re scared, angry, sad, and so many other things. Why not bank the sperm now, then put it out of your mind. Just knowing that the banked sperm is an option will put you at ease.

After treatment, when you get your life back on track (trust me, it can take awhile), talk to your priest and make a decision. My guess is that after this ordeal is over and the weight is lifted, it will be much easier to decide that you won’t violate church teaching and you’ll look into forming a family another way, like through adoption.

But right now this is just not an issue you need to stress, worry, or grieve about.

The people suggesting that this OP put himself in mortal sin – at least twice – in order to father children are not only condoning evil but overlooking a greater good that could be achieved, a magnificent act of charity known as adoption. My parents were sterile and twice they chose adoption (in fact they chose it more than twice, in supporting a poor Indian child and adopting many cats over the years). Thanks be to God that my parents chose this route and chose me out of all the other children yearning to be with a loving family. There is little else in the world to compare to the love of a parent for his adopted child and vice versa. So the OP needs to seriously consider if this is something God is telling him now, that he is not destined to be a biological father, yet he can offer his great love for children so that a few may be accepted, nurtured, and loved in a strong family. Love covers a multitude of sins, and in my personal estimation, adoption is a magnificent act of love that has lasting benefits for everyone involved.

Ok I have had a think about this…

Clearly this is a very distressing time for you and I don’t think you should be worrying about the possibility of infertility when it is only 50:50… Remember there is a 50% chance you will remain fertile. Should be concentrating on gathering your strength for the road ahead…chemo!

Go talk to your priest just to check with him, but the general consensus on here seems to be that the harvesting and the implanting of the sperm would be against your beliefs as a Catholic.

In which case, leave it in Gods hands…anything is possible with Him…I have a plaque which says trust in Him and lean not on your own understanding. He has a plan for you. Pray about it, let Him guide you, let Him give you strength and courage to go through the chemo. Don’t worry about things that haven’t happened yet.

Once the treatment is finished and I pray you will make a full recovery…reevaluate the situation God willing you will be fertile, if not…there are other options like adoption but worry about that then, NOT NOW!

Things will be OK in the end, if they are not OK, it is not the end.

Pray, have faith, we are here to support you through the chemo if you need us to vent, pray with or just support. Love those around you and let God worry about the future. He has your back and He isn’t going to let you fall.

God Bless

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