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What Does Sperm Freezing Do?

Sperm cryopreservation (freezing) is a way to preserve sperm and store it for future use. Men use the process because some medical treatments can damage sperm quality, including cancer treatments like chemotherapy and radiation, as well as some surgeries. For convenience, sperm can also be cryopreserved prior to fertility treatments.

Frozen sperm can be used for fertility treatments, such as intrauterine insemination (IUI) and in vitro fertilization (IVF).

Sperm Freezing: What to Expect

Your provider will refer you to our Andrology Lab for sperm freezing. During your first visit, you will sign a semen storage agreement. We’ll also discuss billing and storage policies with you and give you a chance to ask questions. Please see the current fees and policy for sperm freezing, storage, and preparation

At Home vs. Clinic Collection

We provide private collection rooms, but some men prefer to collect their sample at home and bring it to the lab for processing. If you plan to collect your sample at home, you can pick up a specimen container and instructions from the lab. You will need to bring your sample to the lab within an hour of collection and protect it from extreme hot or cold temperatures during transport.

Whether you plan to collect your sample in the clinic or at home, please make sure you have scheduled an appointment with the lab in advance.

How To Prepare

We recommend you not ejaculate for two to five days before collecting a sperm sample. Refraining may improve the quality of your sample. However, we can use samples collected outside that timeframe in urgent situations, such as if you need to start cancer treatment immediately.

Ejaculate Volume Needed to Freeze Sperm

Each sample yields three to six vials (storage tubes). The average ejaculate volume is less than a teaspoon, but the range varies greatly.

The number of samples needed for storage differs for each person and may depend on the quality of your sperm after it’s thawed. We recommend freezing at least two samples for storage before you have surgery or medical treatment. Discuss your future goals with your provider and make a plan based on your specific medical treatments and how many children you hope to have.

What If My Sperm Quality Is Low?

We will freeze any sperm, even if it is poor quality or has a low concentration of sperm. Your provider will receive a copy of your storage results. We recommend talking with them about the quality of your sperm. Rest assured, doctors regularly perform artificial insemination or in vitro fertilization using very poor quality or low concentration semen samples.

How Much Does It Cost to Freeze Sperm?

Health insurance providers typically don’t cover cryopreservation. The cost to freeze sperm varies based on the number of vials you freeze. You will pay a fee to process the vials for storage. You should also expect to pay annual storage fees and fees to prepare semen samples for insemination or in vitro fertilization procedures.

How Is Sperm Frozen?

After collection, we place your semen sample on a warming block until it is ready to process. Our technicians then mix your sample with a freezing medium to help your sperm survive the freezing and storage.

We divide your sample into vials (storage tubes). The samples are then slowly frozen using liquid nitrogen vapors. Once the samples are frozen, we store the vials in liquid nitrogen.

Semen Storage Safety

We make the safety and integrity of your sample our highest priority. We label collection containers with your name, date of birth, and a unique ID number and barcode. We ask you to read the label on the collection container to ensure the information is correct before we accept your sample.

Once we receive your sample, we handle it with extreme care. All materials used during the process are labeled with your name, the date, and a visit number unique to you and your sample. We process each sample in its own workstation away from other areas. All the tools and solutions we use to prepare your sample for freezing are sterile (clean) and only used once. Certified andrology technicians will make sure there’s no confusion when handling your semen samples. We also use these critical safety steps when preparing your sample for insemination.

Storing Frozen Sperm at University of Utah Health

You can store sperm indefinitely at our Andrology Lab. If you move from the area, we can ship semen samples to another clinic or storage facility. You will need to fill out some paperwork to secure your samples and make sure they are properly handled. You can also leave your sample in our lab until you are ready to use it, but you will need to update your mailing address so we can reach you.

Using Frozen Sperm for Fertility Treatments

Fertility specialists at the Utah Center for Reproductive Medicine (UCRM) will help you design a care plan for using your sperm to achieve a pregnancy. Then your provider will coordinate with our Andrology Lab to use the samples for artificial insemination or in vitro fertilization.

Can I Guarantee My Partner Will Become Pregnant Using My Samples?

Even if you freeze many samples of your sperm, it’s impossible to guarantee that your partner will get pregnant. We advise you to carefully consult with both an andrologist (a doctor who studies male reproduction) and a fertility specialist before using any of your samples for IUI or IVF.

How Long Does Frozen Sperm Last?

Researchers don’t know exactly how long frozen sperm can remain effective, but doctors have used sperm 20 years or older to achieve pregnancies.

Some sperm will die during the freezing process. Depending on the number of vials you store, you may choose to thaw one of the vials so we can examine how successfully your semen can be stored and thawed. You can discuss this with your provider and decide if it’s the right option for you.

How Long Can Sperm Be Stored For?

There’s no limit to how long sperm can be stored. The important thing is that sperm is stored correctly inside liquid nitrogen.

Make an Appointment

You must have a referral from your provider to make an appointment for freezing sperm at the UCRM Andrology Lab. One of our men’s health providers will help you with issues related to male infertility. To schedule an appointment with a male fertility specialist, please call 801-587-1454 or request an appointment online.

To refer a patient, please fill out our online referral form or call 801-581-1454.

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