Preserving & Storing Sperm
Sperm cryopreservation or sperm freezing is a method for men to preserve their sperm and store it in a bank for future use. Many medical treatments, including several cancer therapies, can damage sperm quality, which is why you may choose to freeze your sperm before receiving the medical treatment.
Although there is no information about how long frozen sperm can remain effective, sperm twenty years or older have been used successfully in pregnancies. Sperm freezing allows this sperm to be used in the future in fertility treatments, such as intra uterine insemination (IUI) or in vitro fertilization (IVF).
Patients are usually referred to the andrology laboratory for sperm cryopreservation by their doctor. At the first visit patients can ask questions and clarify anything they might want to know about sperm freezing and cryopreservation, such as storing the samples long term and billing, before the sample is collected and the semen storage agreement signed.
Additionally, patients are always welcome to call with additional questions or clarifications.
After a semen sample has been collected, it is placed on a warming block maintained at 37°C, to liquefy. At this time, the semen sample is mixed in a 1:1 ratio with a freezing medium that allows the sperm to survive the freezing and storage process.
Frozen in Liquid Nitrogen
Semen samples are slowly frozen in liquid nitrogen vapors. Once the samples have been frozen in the liquid nitrogen vapors, they are placed in special containers where they are stored in the liquid nitrogen until they are needed. Each ejaculate can yield from one to six vials. Each vial of a patient’s semen sample is labeled with the patient’s name, the date, and a unique number recorded on the side. This information will be used to catalog the semen sample into the storage facility.
Test Thaw Procedure
The survival rate of sperm after cryopreservation can vary widely. Depending on the amount of sperm banked, the lab recommends that one of the cryovials be thawed to examine how successfully an individual’s semen can be stored and thawed.