Sperm freezing and storage is the procedure whereby sperm cells are frozen to preserve them for future use. Sperm cells have been frozen and thawed successfully for more than 40 years. By using special technology and then keeping sperm in liquid nitrogen at minus 196C, it can be stored for many years while maintaining a reasonable quality.
Why should i want to freeze sperm?
Unfortunately, life is unpredictable. There are many situations that could interfere with your future fertility. These may include:
- Chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
- Certain types of pelvic or testicular surgery.
- High-risk occupations or sports.
- Diabetes, which may cause erectile difficulty.
- Being away from home on day of assisted reproductive treatment.
How do I arrange sperm Freezing?
Please ask your GP or specialist for a referral form to see one of our specialists at Pragathi IVF Centre.
It is preferable if, before your first appointment, blood tests for hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV are arranged. We routinely screen for these infections because they may be transmitted through the semen, and to minimise the risk of contamination during storage. Once you receive your blood test results, please contact us to arrange, to book a time, to produce the sample at our clinic. At this time you will need to sign consent forms for the freezing and storage of sperm, which lasts for up to 10 years at a time
How Many sperm samples do I freeze?
Everyone’s situation is different. Most men freeze between two and five samples. Some choose to freeze many more. Often, the time interval before surgery, chemotherapy or radiation therapy will be the deciding factor. We recommend abstaining from intercourse and ejaculation for at least two days but not longer than five days before the first sample, and for about two days between the samples.
Scientifically, there is no limit to the length of time that sperm can be stored in a frozen state. However, the standard storage period for sperm is 10 years. This term can be exceeded only in certain circumstances. City Fertility Centre will explain whether you can do this, and for how long you may be able to store your sperm. Damage can occur to the sperm during freezing and thawing, not while it is frozen. The amount of time in storage does not influence the success rate.
There is a fee for freezing each semen sample.
What happens if I want to thaw and use the samples?
Please inform your IVF doctor that you wish to use your frozen sperm sample. Your partner may require some basic fertility investigations. If the sperm samples are of good quality, they can be used for Intra-Uterine Insemination (IUI) at the time of ovulation. Because the sperm has been frozen and thawed, pregnancy rates are usually lower than in the general fertile population, about 5 per cent to 10 per cent a cycle.
Could there be a problem with the quality of sperm?
Yes, there may be a problem with the number and quality of the sperm, especially in men who are about to undergo cancer treatment. Their underlying illness may have caused a reduction in the sperm count or in their motility (movement). In such situations it may be advisable to freeze even more specimens if time and treatment permit.
If the sperm count or motility is low, the thawed samples may not be suitable for intra-uterine inseminations. However, we can still use them for In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) and Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI), whereby individual sperm are injected directly into the eggs. These procedures are much more complex and costly, but can result in pregnancies even in cases where the sperm count is low or the sperm are functionally impaired.
Are there any problems with the children produced by the use of frozen/thawed sperm?
ResRearch has shown no difference in the rates of abnormalities or birth defects among children conceived with fresh versus frozen sperm. However, there are some theoretical concerns that chemotherapy drugs may have unknown effects on the sperm or the offspring. If possible, it is best to freeze the specimens before chemotherapy begins.
What happens if I no longer want to keep my sperm cryopreserved?
The following options are available if you decide to no longer keep your sperm cryopreserved:
Removal from cryopreservation (thawed and discarded).
Donation for scientific training.
Whatever option you decide on, signed consent forms are required. Please contact the fertility coordinators to discuss these options.