A fourth option is rectal probe ejaculation, also known as electroejaculation. The doctor inserts a conductive probe into the man's anus until it is next to the prostate. A jolt of electricity causes a muscle contraction that stimulates ejaculation of sperm through the usual channels.
Interestingly, this technique was developed for, and is still widely used in, animal husbandry (for bulls, ferrets, leopards, elephants, and hippopotamuses, among others). Because it does not require intact reflexes, it is also used for men who have spinal injuries.
It's more complicated than performing the procedure
But just because we know how to extract sperm after death, there is no assurance that someone will be given access to the procedure should they request it. Martin Bastuba is founder and medical director of Male Fertility & Sexual Medicine Specialists in San Diego. "There are no specific rules," Bastuba says. "Most of the laws on the books were written before this technology really existed."
Sperm, it is said, are special. Several recent court rulings have given sperm a legal status higher than that of blood, bone marrow, or organs. While those substances and body parts may be used to save life, sperm -- like eggs -- are often singled out for their potential to create life. In line with this view are positions such as that of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, which argued in 2013 that, "In the absence of a written directive, it is reasonable to conclude that physicians are not obligated to comply with either request [for sperm extraction or use of extracted sperm] from a surviving spouse or partner."