Single men's attitudes towards posthumous use of their sperm cryopreserved due to illness in Israel

Anat Stein, Eran Altman, Mali Rotlevi, Donia Seh, Avital Wertheimer, Avi Ben-Haroush, Yoel Shufaro*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Banking of frozen spermatozoa by single men opens the possibility of procreation long after their death. Requests for posthumous reproduction by the families of the deceased are growing, raising an ethical debate, especially when written instructions were not left by the patients and in cases of unplanned perimortem collection. The issue of the progenitors' intention to procreate after death is the key to ethically based decision-making in these cases. Objectives: To evaluate the attitude of single men cryopreserving spermatozoa before life-threatening medical situations towards post-mortem usage of their cryopreserved spermatozoa. Materials & methods: Adult single men prior to sperm cryopreservation before cytotoxic therapy were asked to sign a structured form declaring their will and instructions for the usage of their cryopreserved spermatozoa in case of their demise. Results: Four hundred fifty-two men of diverse ethnicity, religious and cultural backgrounds signed the form providing instructions for the use of their cryopreserved spermatozoa in case of mortality. Their age was 27.4 ± 8.06 years. Seven (1.5%) patients willed their spermatozoa for posthumous reproduction to a sibling, 22 (4.9%) to parents, and 26 (5.7%) to their informal female partners. The significant majority (n = 397; 87.8 %) of the single men were ordered to destroy their cryopreserved spermatozoa in case of their expiry. Note that, 26–39 years old men were less likely (81.8% vs. >90% in other ages) to order sperm destruction, as well as men with a poorer prognosis (83% vs. 90%). Discussion: In this study group, most single men cryopreserving spermatozoa in the face of future life-threatening morbidity do so for their own future live parenthood, and are not interested in posthumous reproduction. Conclusion: Our results doubt the claim that single men who had an unplanned perimortem sperm collection can be universally presumed to have wished to father a child posthumously. Any claimed assumed consent in these cases should be considered for each case individually based on its specific circumstances.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)380-384
Number of pages5
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2024


  • cancer patients
  • posthumous reproduction
  • sperm cryopreservation


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