Sperm freezing is the process of collecting, analyzing, freezing and storing of sperms. The samples are later used for fertility treatments. This overall process is known as cryopreservation and is sometimes referred to as sperm banking. Semen freezing is also done as part of fertility preservation too.
HOW IS SEMEN FREEZING DONE?
Semen sample is first checked for the count and motility. Man has to produce a fresh sperm sample on the day of planned sperm freezing. The sample is mixed with a special fluid called a cryoprotectant, to protect the sperm from damage during the freezing process.
The sample is then divided between a number of containers called cryotubes depending upon the volume of the raw sample, so that each cryo tube can be thawed independently and the stored sperm can be used in multiple fertility treatments in the future. The cryotubes containing the sperm are then plunged into liquid nitrogen tanks for storage at -196o C till later used in IUI, IVF or ICSI treatment
Will there be any damage to the frozensperms due to semen freezing and thawing?
In frozen semen sample, there may be 20%, but not significant reduction in the sperm motility after thawingit.
Who all can benefit and what are the indications for semen sample freezing?
Sperm cryopreservation for male fertility preservation is offered for the following cases:
What are the instructions to be given or prerequisites prior to semen sample freezing?
1) Should be tested for infectious diseases including HIV, Syphilis, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C within 6 months of providing semen sample.
2) The man should have abstinence of 2-3 days prior to the day of providing semen sample.
3) A written consent form is taken prior
How many sperm samples to freeze?
Sperm may not be able to maintain their viability and mobility during the freezing and thawing processes. In general, around 50% - 80% of the sperm can survive after thawing, and the percentage is even lower if the quality of the pre-freeze sample is already not the best.
For men who are freezing the sperm as a backup storage for fertility treatment, one sample is usually adequate.
For men who are freezing the sperm for fertility preservation because of a medical condition, the underlying disease may have caused a reduction in the sperm count and motility. In such situations, it may be advisable to freeze more than one sample if possible, preferably between two to five, depending on the time interval before surgery, chemotherapy or radiotherapy, so that there will be adequate sperm for use in the future after thawing.
What happens when a man wants to use his sperm?
When the man is ready to use his sperm, the sperm are thawed and used in fertility treatments. The type of treatment depends on the number of cryotubes in storage and the sperm quality. Frozen sperm can be used for intrauterine insemination (IUI) if the sperm quality is good. If the sperm quality is poor, it may be necessary to undergo in-vitro fertilization (IVF) or even intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) whereby a single sperm is injected directly into an egg to assist fertilization.
How long can the sperm are stored for?
Currently if a man is storing sperm for social reasons, the sperm can only remain in storage for up to a maximum of 5 years.
Can own sperm be donated if decided not to use it further?
Own frozen semen sample cannot be donated. It can be discarded or used for teaching purpose.
Do you need to pay if you want to continue semen freezing for future use?
Constant maintenance of semen freezing need frequent use of liquid nitrogen to fill the cryo tank. Fixed charges should be paid periodically once in every 6 months or every 12 months.