What is Sperm Cryopreservation?

Sperm cryopreservation is a process that makes it possible to store sperm samples for future use. The samples are stored at extremely cold temperatures of -196°C. By storing sperm in this fashion it can be preserved for several years. There are a number of reasons why men should consider sperm cryopreservation.

Prior to Chemotherapy, Radiotherapy or Surgery that May Affect Fertility

Over the last decade, the survival rate of patients battling cancer has increased significantly. Many are able to resume a normal life, which often includes the desire to father a child.

Prior to Undergoing a Vasectomy

Men who plan to undergo a vasectomy may wish to consider sperm cryopreservation. Some vasectomies are irreversible and the pregnancy rate following a vasovasostomy remains small. Furthermore, following a vasectomy, many men develop antisperm antibodies that could impair their ability to produce offspring. For the above mentioned reasons, men who plan to undergo a vasectomy should consider sperm cryopreservation to allow them the possibility of having a child in the future, in spite of their infertility.

Prior to an Artificial Insemination or In Vitro Fertilization

It is possible for the spouse of a patient undergoing In Vitro Fertilization or IUI to store his sperm ahead of time in the event that he is unable to produce a sperm sample the day of the procedure. For some spouses, the mere fact of knowing they have sperm in reserve lessens the stress that often stems from the fear of not being able to produce the sample at the opportune moment.

ICSI is recommended for use with frozen sperm but may in some circumstances be appropriate for IUI. Learn more.

The Technique

At the outset, semen is collected and analyzed. It is then treated and put into 0.5 ml straws (small plastic tubes). Each individual straw is labeled with the man’s name, the freeze date and its own exclusive identification number (provided during the first appointment). Samples are stored in a cryogenic container filled with liquid nitrogen at a temperature of -196°C. Sperm samples stored this way can be preserved for several years. To increase the chances of a suitable sperm banking, the man should expect to produce 3 to 4 sperm samples (on average). An abstinence of 2 to 5 days between each sample is required. It is therefore essential to begin promptly when treatments such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy, vasectomy or hormonal treatments that may affect the fertility process occur.

As a rule, spermatozoa react well to the cryopreservation process, particularly in the case where a “good sperm sample” is obtained at the outset. Sperm originating from the ejaculate or from fluid extracted from the male genital tract can be frozen.

Up to date testing for HIV, HEP B & C, Syphilis, Chlamydia and Gonorrhea will be necessary prior to freezing sperm.  If needed or outdated, requisitions will be given to you by your Heartland physician. Blood cannot be drawn at our clinic, but we can organize requisitions and direct you where to go.