Last updated date: 03-Mar-2023
Originally Written in English
What is sperm freezing?
Sperm freezing is the collection, analysis, freezing, and storage of a man's sperm. The samples are then utilized to manage infertility or donated to other couples or individuals, including same-sex female partners. This procedure is known as cryopreservation, and it is also known as sperm banking.
Sperm freezing is the practice of freezing one or more sperm samples in liquid nitrogen for later usage when healthy sperm may be more difficult to get. Essentially, sperm freezing maintains your ability to become a biological parent, independent of age, sickness, accident, medical treatment, or life path.
Sperm freezing and storage is the process of freezing sperm cells to preserve them for future use. Scientists use a specific medium to freeze the sperm, then preserve it in liquid nitrogen at minus 196 degrees Celsius for several years while preserving reasonable quality.
The process of sperm freezing, also known as sperm banking or cryopreservation, is an excellent way for couples (or single people) to preserve their chances of having a biological baby in the future, particularly if the partner with testes in a high-risk profession or is about to undergo certain medical procedures or treatments.
Sperm banking is utilized when a man wants to have children in the future but his current circumstances make it unlikely that he would be able to conceive using traditional procedures. This can be due to cancer or other medical treatments that induce infertility, hazardous military deployments overseas, or a variety of other factors.
If you wish to have children, it is a good idea to question your doctor about any potential unfavorable effects that might lead to infertility before having significant surgeries.
The decision to bank sperm is highly personal. It is preferable if your partner is engaged in your choice if you are married or in a committed relationship. If you are under the age of 18, your parents should be included in the decision. Unfortunately, a guy may be forced to make a rapid decision when dealing with a serious disease.
What conditions benefit from sperm freezing?
People with cancer
The most prevalent cause for sperm freezing is cancer therapy. Following chemotherapy or radiation therapy, there may be extremely few or no sperm remaining in the ejaculate (seminal fluid). Orchiectomy (removal of the testicles) for testicular cancer means that sperm can no longer be created.
If you've been diagnosed with testicular or prostate cancer, you may have been advised that surgery to remove one or both testicles is an option. In fact, anyone with cancer in their testicles, including teenagers, may desire to freeze their sperm if they are preparing to endure cancer chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
Even while sperm freezing is becoming more commonly accepted as a viable alternative, it is still necessary to advocate for yourself if you are interested in it.
If you're reaching middle age, you could consider freezing your sperm to increase your chances of having children. Sperm concentration, morphology (size and shape), and motility all deteriorate with age, resulting in worse sperm quality.
Not only does the risk of autism, schizophrenia, and other diseases rise with age, but there is also evidence that seminal volume decreases. Some people, in fact, become infertile.
Sperm freezing for trans women
Transgender people who produce sperm may desire to have biological children in the future, fertilizing either a partner's egg or a donated egg with their sperm. Sperm freezing allows for this and is suggested prior to commencing gender-affirming hormone treatment (typically estrogen and androgen-blockers).
A 2017 study examined nearly 40 years of research on the effects of transgender hormones on sperm quality and testicular function. The study discovered that estrogen and/or anti-androgen medication slowed or stopped spermatogenesis in the majority of instances, as well as morphological alterations to the testicles. In one trial, low-dose estrogen treatment had no effect on sperm concentration or motility, but a higher-dose regimen resulted in lower sperm motility after a few days and reduced sperm concentration after two weeks.
Sperm count and quality can be restored in some circumstances. According to one research, 67 percent of participants restored to a normal sperm count after 6 months of discontinuing estrogen medication. The influence of medical gender change on fertility, as well as the ability of spermatogenesis to recover if estrogen treatment is interrupted, appears to be diverse and individual. Case studies show that while some patients continued spermatogenesis with gender-affirming hormone therapy, others ceased making sperm entirely, and others developed azoospermia for 4-5 months after discontinuing medication.
Trans women can protect their capacity to become genetic parents by storing their sperm prior to hormone therapy, avoiding the necessity for long-term discontinuation of hormone treatment later on. Historically, many trans persons did not receive proper reproductive counseling before to beginning hormone therapy. This appears to be changing. 2018 research examined sperm samples in a sperm bank and discovered that the number of transgender sperm bankers grew by 18% compared to cisgender sperm bankers between 2006 and 2016.
People with hazardous jobs
If you work in a hazardous environment or are in the military, you may want to bank your sperm in case of an accident or chemical exposure that might harm your sperm or fertility.
Some people freeze their sperm before traveling to places of the world where Zika, a virus that may be passed on through sperm, is present.
Those receiving medical treatments or surgical procedures
You may choose to do this if you are having specific operations, such as gender confirmation, to increase your chances of having a biological kid.
Furthermore, if you are having a vasectomy, you may elect to bank your sperm in case you change your mind about having children in the future.
Because several medical treatments might impair ejaculation, sperm banking is frequently provided before such procedures are scheduled.
People with other reasons
Other persons who may think about freezing their sperm include:
- Those who are starting testosterone replacement treatment
- Couples who are undergoing IVF or other reproductive treatments
- Individuals with low sperm counts may be candidates for intracytoplasmic sperm injection.
- Posthumous sperm retrieval: family members may opt to get sperm from a deceased person. Up to 72 hours after death, sperm can be retrieved and frozen.
- Sperm freezing is also utilized by males who want to donate sperm to a sperm bank.
How is sperm freezing done?
There are various phases involved in the sperm freezing process. To begin, a person is subjected to an infectious disease screening to ensure that no sexually transmitted infections exist. This is normally accomplished by a simple blood test.
The individual then supplies a sample of sperm. The most frequent approach to supply the sample is by masturbation in a reproductive clinic, although in rare situations, a sample may be created at home and submitted to a lab within few hours. The specimen must be placed in a lab-approved cup and kept as near to body temperature as feasible. The sample cannot also contain lubricants or moisturizers unless permitted by the lab.
To harvest sperm from testicular tissue, a surgical operation is sometimes required. This might be true for folks who have already had a vasectomy or cancer therapy. Individuals with infertility (a very low sperm count or no sperm in the sperm) may also require sperm extraction surgery.
After receiving sperm, it is measured to determine semen volume before being "washed" with sterile medium. The sperm is subsequently separated from the seminal fluid and transport medium by centrifugation (spinning).
This procedure allows lab staff to view only the sperm under a high-powered microscope. Many laboratories utilize CASA, or computer-assisted sperm analysis, technology to provide precise and consistent assessments of the major sperm parameters: sperm count, motility (how many sperm are moving), and morphology (how many sperm are properly shaped).
Professionals examine the ejaculate for sperm. If sperm is nonexistent or low, the patient is sent to further testing. The findings of the study inform further testing for infertility. Andrologists examine the concentration, morphology (form), and motility of sperm (movement). They ensure that the sperm is in good condition and that there is enough to freeze.
This quality test is an important stage in sperm freezing and storage. The post-thaw analysis includes freezing and then thawing a tiny amount of your sample to simulate the thawing circumstances your sperm will encounter when it is ready to be utilized. practitioners then re-analyze sperm quality criteria to determine whether the sperm in your sample is viable after thawing. According to studies, it is common for indicators such as sperm motility to decline somewhat after being frozen and thawed. According to a recent study, around 80% of sperm will survive the thaw process.
This little decrease has no substantial impact on pregnancy rates. Data reveals that around 10 million sperm are generally required for effective intrauterine insemination. Normal, healthy sperm quality characteristics result in at least 40 million sperm each ejaculate. A post-thaw analysis provides you with an accurate estimate of the number and quality of sperm you may have after thawing, which is useful information for the healthcare practitioner who will be dealing with the sample in the future.
Sperm freezing and thawing
Andrologists deposit prepared sperm in tiny vials of a particular freezing solution. The vials are placed in liquid nitrogen-filled storage freezers. Sperm must be kept frozen at a constant temperature of -196 degrees Celsius. Each patient's sperm is often divided into many vials and stored in separate tanks. Even if one of the freezers fails, the other sperm samples are preserved. Sperm may be kept forever frozen.
When the sperm is ready for use, it is gently thawed in the lab until it reaches room temperature. After thawing, it is examined to ensure that there is still motile, active sperm present. Unfortunately, one-half of sperm may not survive the freeze-thaw cycle in rare situations. Those who do survive, however, may have an advantage in terms of fertility. When utilized in IVF, these sperm may be more likely to result in a pregnancy, according to research.
The step-by-step process of sperm freezing
- Prior to storing your sperm, you will submit blood to be tested for sexually transmitted illnesses (STIs). You'll also be required to complete a questionnaire, contract, and legal papers.
- You will be advised to refrain from having intercourse for 2 to 3 days prior to submitting a sample.
- If you feel comfortable, you will provide your sample in a private room at a reproductive clinic or sperm bank. This permits the sperm to be frozen at its peak of freshness. (The amount of surviving sperm cells and activity begin to decline within minutes following ejaculation.)
- After masturbating, place your sample in a sterile cup. Some establishments enable your partner to help you.
- You can collect your sample at home if you don't feel comfortable doing so at a clinic or bank. Just keep in mind that the sample must be sent to the clinic within few hours.
- Samples are examined for sperm quantity, shape, and motility to determine how many more samples are required. In average, three to six specimens are taken for each anticipated pregnancy, but this will vary according to the quality of your sperm.
- To safeguard the sperm cells, the samples are divided into various vials and frozen by a lab technician who specializes in cryoprotectant materials.
- A surgical retrieval is an option if sperm are not present in the sample or if you are unable to ejaculate. In this situation, sperm will be extracted straight from the testicle by a healthcare practitioner.
How much sperms should be frozen?
The amount of sperm you should freeze is determined by your family planning objectives, sperm count, and sperm quality after thawing. Each sperm sample normally provides four vials. One vial of sperm represents one attempt at intrauterine insemination (IUI), which has a 10-20% success rate. When using IUI, it is suggested that you freeze 3-5 vials for each pregnancy you wish to achieve.
You don't need to freeze as many sperm samples if you want to use them for IVF using intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), a procedure that involves injecting one sperm into the egg to fertilize it before transferring it into the uterus. Because there are generally hundreds of thousands (or millions) of sperm in one vial, a single vial of sperm may be utilized almost indefinitely in ICSI.
If you want to have a big family in the future, you will most likely want to save more samples than someone who only intends to have one child. If your sperm count or quality is lower than expected following an analysis, you may be advised to save additional samples. Because sperm quality might vary, it is advisable to make numerous "deposits." In an ideal world, you would freeze many samples and use your best sample whenever possible in the future.
How effective is sperm freezing?
Since 1953, sperm freezing has been done successfully. It's a highly efficient strategy for folks who want to keep their fertility. Some sperm, however, does not survive the freezing procedure.
If the sample is of excellent quality, the loss produced by the thawing procedure isn't a problem for successfully conceiving a healthy kid. This is because the typical sperm count per milliliter of sperm ranges from 15 million to more than 200 million. In terms of sperm quantity, inseminations require just 10 million motile sperm whereas IVF [in vitro fertilization] only one sperm for each egg.
Sperm does not lose efficiency due to freezing and thawing, and it has the same fertilization potential as fresh sperm and there is no difference in fertilization between frozen and fresh sperm. Furthermore, there is no indication that utilizing frozen sperm raises the likelihood of health problems in newborns.
How long can your sperm stay frozen before using it?
In essence, sperm may be preserved indefinitely under the right circumstances. A new study looked at the long-term effects of sperm freezing and discovered that during the first 5 years of cryostorage, there was no influence on sperm survival rate. There was a modest decline in sperm survival rate after 5 years, however this did not appear to have a meaningful effect on birth rates when the sperm was utilized in artificial insemination. The study revealed that the period of cryostorage had no discernible effect on clinical results.
What are the privacy and security measures for sperm freezing?
Cryostorage facilities are extremely safe. Cryostorage partner facilities have a video monitoring surveillance system as well as motion detectors. Only trained and qualified personnel have access to card-controlled locations.
HIPAA compliance is required for cryostorage facilities. Because HIPAA is a federal legislation that safeguards sensitive patient health information, your samples cannot be given to anyone other than you or someone you have authorized (such as your spouse). Clinics and labs must also secure your health data and any related personally identifiable data from unauthorized parties and cannot disclose your sample or storage details with other parties.
Where can I use my extra sperms?
If you have frozen sperm that you did not utilize in your therapy, you have many alternatives:
- Donate them to someone else: You might be able to donate your sperm to someone else who is desperate for a family.
- Donate them to training: You may have sperm in storage that you may not intend to use (for example, because the sperm are not needed, or are not suitable, for treatment). You can agree to your sperm being utilized and preserved for prospective use by designated healthcare experts in the practice of fertility treatment procedures. If you consent to the preservation of your sperm for training reasons, your clinic may do so for up to 55 years from the day your sperm is initially placed in storage.
- Donate them to research: Egg, sperm, and embryo research is crucial in helping scientists understand the reasons of infertility and create novel therapies.
- Dispose them: Some people opt to throw away their sperm. No longer required sperm is simply taken from the freezer and left to expire naturally at warmer temperatures.
What are the risks of sperm freezing?
There are no hazards or adverse effects to spontaneously obtaining sperm samples (through masturbation). If surgical extraction is needed, there are minor risks, such as blood or pain, as with any operation.
Since 1953, sperm freezing has been used effectively to help people create healthy infants. The procedure is safe, standardized, and improving as technology progresses.
The main issue with sperm freezing is that not all of the sperm survives the freezing and thawing procedure. However, because most sperm ejaculations include a sufficient quantity of healthy sperm, the likelihood of having enough healthy sperm for fertility treatments is relatively high. The ability of the remaining sperm cells to fertilize an embryo is not endangered by freezing or thawing. Cryopreservation is thought to have no temporal restriction, and sperm preserved for up to 20 years has been utilized to birth healthy kids.
How much does sperm freezing cost?
The cost of freezing sperm varies. There is frequently a one-time fee for sperm collection and examination, followed by continuous storage fees for freezing. Storage prices might range from $100 to $500 each year, but it's vital to discuss the charges with your insurance provider and physician.
Sperm freezing is the procedure of freezing one or more sperm samples in liquid nitrogen for future use when healthy sperm may be harder to get. In essence, sperm freezing preserves your capacity to become a biological parent regardless of your age, illness, accident, medical treatment, or life pathway.
If you have the financial resources, sperm freezing might be a terrific alternative for preserving your chances of having a biological child.
This is especially relevant if you are:
- Becoming older
- Working in a hazardous career
- Receiving certain procedures or treatments
- Considering IVF
The procedure is quite successful and has little dangers. If you believe it would be a suitable choice for you or your family, consult with a fertility specialist.