Sperm cryopreservation has revolutionized the field of assisted reproduction. Cryopreserving (freezing) sperm avoids the need for additional surgery in couples undergoing repeated in vitro fertilization injection cycles. Moreover, it provides hope for men with deteriorating sperm quality or quantity, and for those undergoing chemotherapy, radiation, or radical surgery who once had no chance for future fertility.
Should you consider freezing your sperm? Read on to gain a better understanding of sperm cryopreservation and its multitude of benefits:
What is Sperm Cryopreservation?
Sperm cryopreservation, also known as sperm banking, gives men the option to freeze and store their sperm until pregnancy is desired. Compared to the more invasive female procedures, sperm cryopreservation is pretty quick and non-invasive. Sperm is collected from ejaculated semen and frozen to be used in future fertility treatments, such as in vitro fertilization (IVF).
The sperm cryopreservation process involves:
- Routine screening for infection (HIV, hepatitis, and syphilis).
- Providing a semen sample or undergoing a sperm extraction.
- Lab analysis of sperm quantity and quality.
- Freezing of viable sperm.
- Storage of the sperm indefinitely.
How Are Sperm Collected and Frozen?
Sperm (the reproductive cells found in a man’s semen) is typically collected through masturbation. Once a semen sample is provided, it is tested for sperm quantity, shape, and movement within each specimen. If sperm are not present in the sample or if the man is unable to ejaculate, another option is to surgically remove sperm directly from the testicle.
Next, the samples are separated into vials to be frozen. Lab technicians will use specialized cryoprotectant (“anti-freeze”) agents to help preserve and protect sperm cells. The frozen sperm is then stored in the IVF/andrology lab or long-term storage facility until needed. When the time comes, the sperm is thawed and tested for mobility prior to use in IVF or intrauterine insemination (IUI).
What Are the Benefits of Freezing Sperm?
The primary benefit of freezing sperm is to allow a man to preserve his fertility and use his sperm at a later date.
Common reasons to freeze sperm include:
- Advancing age
- Deteriorating sperm quality or low quantity
- Cancer or other medical reasons
- Pre-vasectomy patients
- Career and lifestyle choices, such as those with high-risk occupations or who spend a lot of time away from their significant other
Interested in learning more about preserving your fertility? Contact The Fertility Preservation Program in Pittsburgh today.