Why do people freeze sperm?
There are many reasons to freeze your sperm, says Amin Sherati, M.D. Director of Male Infertility and Men’s Health Clinic at Brady Urological Institute.
Herati says that the most common reason for this is when you have to undergo treatment for cancer. After radiation or chemotherapy, there may be very little sperm or no remaining sperm in the ejaculate. Orchiectomy (removal orchiectomy) is a procedure that removes the testicles to treat testicular cancer. In these cases, sperm cannot be produced.
There are other reasons to sperm bank:
- Age Sperm quality decreases with age. If you want to preserve your fertility, you might consider freezing sperm.
- Conditions or medical procedures: Those who have a vasectomy might want to consider having children in the future. Certain medications, like testosterone therapy and sickle cell therapy can impact fertility.
- Occupation People with high-risk careers, such as the military, may freeze their sperm in order to make it available to themselves or their partners.
- Posthumous Sperm Retrieval: Family members can choose to take sperm from a deceased relative. You can extract sperm and freeze it up to 72 hours following death.
How is sperm collected for freezing?
There are several steps involved in the sperm freezing process. To ensure that there aren’t any sexually transmitted diseases, the first step is to have an infectious disease screening done. This is usually a simple blood test.
The person then provides a sample of the semen. The most common method of providing the sample is at a fertility clinic. However, in some cases, the sample can be made at home and sent to the lab within 24 hours.
The specimen must be placed in a cup approved by the laboratory and maintained at body temperature. Herati also states that the sample must not contain any moisturizers or lubricants unless approved by the laboratory.
Sometimes, sperm can be extracted from testicular tissue by a surgical procedure. For those who have had cancer treatment or a vasectomy, this might be an option. Individuals suffering from infertility, a low sperm count or a lack of sperm in their semen, might need to have sperm extracted.
What is the process of analysing sperm?
After the semen has been collected in the laboratory, andrologists (specialists on sperm and male fertility), analyze it and prepare it for storage. They take the sperm out of the seminal fluid and testicular tissue, then examine a small amount under a microscope.
“We ensure that there is sperm in our ejaculate. Herati explains that if sperm levels are low or absent, patients will be subject to further testing. “We do a routine semen analysis. The analysis results guide further testing for infertility.
Andrologists assess the sperm’s morphology (shape), concentration, and motility (movement). They ensure that the sperm is healthy, and that enough is available to freeze.
How does sperm freeze and thaw?
Preparated sperm is placed in a special freezer solution in small vials by andrologists. The vials are placed in storage freezers containing liquid nitrogen. Herati says that the perm must be kept at minus 196 degrees Celsius.
The sperm of each patient is usually divided into multiple vials and stored in multiple storage tanks. The remaining sperm remains safe if one freezer is damaged. Sperm can be frozen indefinitely.
Once someone is ready for sperm use, the sperm must be carefully thawed in a laboratory until it reaches room temp. Herati says that after thawing, the sperm is analyzed to ensure there are still active, motile sperm. Unfortunately, sometimes, only one-third to two-thirds (or more) of the sperm survives the freeze-thaw cycle. However, the ones that survive can be a benefit from a fertility perspective. These sperm are more likely to lead to a pregnancy if they are used in IVF, according to studies.
What is the cost of freezing sperm?
There are many costs involved in sperm freezing. There is usually one cost for sperm analysis and collection. Then there are ongoing storage costs for freezing. The storage costs for sperm can run between $100 and $500 per year. However, it is important to speak with your doctor and insurance provider to fully understand the cost.
Can I freeze my Sperm at Home?
It is impossible to freeze sperm at your home. Sperm must be frozen in a laboratory that has the right quality controls. An average home freezer can keep sperm at minus 18 degrees Celsius. Sperm should be kept at minus196 degrees centigrade.
You can collect sperm at your home to prepare for freezing. You can get a storage and collection kit for sperm from a number of services. The sample is collected at home and then the kit is shipped to the laboratory for storage.
I have been diagnosed with cancer. What should I do?
Talk to your doctor and a fertility specialist. Any kind of cancer treatment can have an impact on your sperm quality and production. Do not be embarrassed or shy to have this important conversation with your providers.
Herati says that people become so anxious about their cancer treatment after being diagnosed, they forget about what the future holds. According to studies, about 90% of cancer patients would prefer to have their sperm frozen before they have had treatment.
I am young and healthy. Are my sperm safe to freeze?
Herati recommends that anyone between 18 and 25 years old should freeze their eggs. “You never know what environmental conditions you might encounter or what health issues could arise.” During this stage of their lives, sperm are at their healthiest.