- How long can sperm be stored?
- Is freezing harmful to the sperm?
- How is semen stored?
- What is the normal volume of an ejaculate?
- How many samples should be frozen?
- What is the ideal abstinence time between collections?
- What is the procedure for using the frozen sperm?
- What is the procedure for terminating the storage agreement?
- How can I guarantee that I will become pregnant using the samples?
- What if the initial semen quality is poor or concentration is very low?
- How can I be sure my semen sample is not contaminated with another sample or mislabeled?
- What if I move out of the Utah area?
There is no practical limit to the length of time sperm, correctly maintained in liquid nitrogen, can be stored.
A percentage of the sperm will not survive the freezing process. The survival rate varies greatly between individuals.
Semen is stored in cryovials in liquid nitrogen. (See How is Cryopreservation Performed?)
1.5 to 5 milliliters (1.5–5cc)
A minimum of two samples is recommended for storage prior to surgery and/or therapy; however, it’s the patient’s choice as to how many samples he will freeze. The patient should discuss his future plans during the initial consult and establish a plan based on time constraints and future need. The number of samples needed for adequate storage is different for each situation and varies with the quality of the sample once it is thawed.
Between two and five days is ideal, but may be less time between collections, if necessary.
A few weeks prior to the date you anticipate needing the samples, contact the andrology lab so that we can bring the samples out of long-term storage. If you plan to use the samples for artificial insemination, we will need to have a physician's requisition order on file. When you know the day you will need the sample prepared, call and set an appointment to pick the sample up.
Many physicians have additional requirements, such as blood tests or a current pap and pelvic exam, that they require before they will perform an insemination. Be sure to communicate with your physician in advance to avoid any delays.
You (or, in the event of your death, your legally authorized representative) may terminate a storage agreement at any time by requesting and completing a final disposition form (contact the andrology lab to obtain this form). The form will need to be completed and signature witnessed.
Please note: An andrology employee or a notary public must witness the original signature. The original written notice must be received and acknowledged by the university before the agreement is terminated.
Regardless of how many samples are frozen, it is impossible to guarantee success. The best advice is to carefully consult with both an andrologist and reproductive endocrinology and infertility specialist before beginning any use of the samples.
Many cryopreserved samples may not be preserved well enough for artificial insemination. However, IVF is regularly performed with samples of very poor quality or concentration. Any sample containing sperm, regardless of concentration or quality, is routinely frozen. If there is a concern at the time of processing the sample for cryopreservation, the laboratory director or your care-provider will be contacted.
The specimen container used to collect the sample is labeled and verified by the patient prior to collection. Once the sample is received it is handled with extreme caution. All materials used in the process are labeled with the patient's name, the current date, and a visit number unique to the patient and the sample collected. Each sample is assigned a physically isolated workstation. All tools and solutions used in preparing the sample for cryopreservation are sterile and single-use. Certified andrology technicians will ensure there is no confusion in the handling of semen samples.
Arrangements can be made to ship semen samples to another clinic or storage facility in the area you are moving to. Some paperwork will be necessary to ensure proper handling and security of the samples. The samples can also continue to be maintained at University of Utah Health Care under the same conditions. You only need to provide a billing address and a permanent mailing address.