In some circumstances sperm freezing might be recommended to couples. In these cases the semen sample is frozen in a specific medium (cryoprotectant), which protects spermatozoa against damage during the whole freezing process.
The frozen sample can be preserved for many years and used for fertility treatment in the future. However, it is important to notice that freezing reduces sperm quality; therefore, fresh samples are preferred if possible.
Sperm cryopreservation is indicated for the following reasons:
- For patients with low sperm count or with sperm production that shows signs of deterioration over time.
- For men who find it difficult to ejaculate on demand, this might result in their inability to produce a sample on the day of egg retrieval. Freezing prior to treatment reduces the stress associated with producing a sample.
- For men who require routine surgical sperm retrieval.
- Prior to chemo/radio therapy. Both treatments may affect men’s future fertility.
- Prior to vasectomy.
- For storing of donor sperm (sperm banking).
How long can semen be frozen for?
Practically, forever. We would take your samples out of storage for the following reasons:
- To use sample/s for any ART treatment (see Treatment Options below).
- If you indicate that you no longer wish to keep the sample/s stored.
- If you stop making payment of your fees.
- Under the instruction of your Last Will and Testament.
How much does sperm freezing cost?
There is a fixed annual storage fee for sperm freezing (per batch of sperm or embryos). Please see the updated price here.
Treatment Options with Frozen Sperm
Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)
It is sometimes referred to as artificial insemination. IUI is generally recommended when the semen analysis results are normal or close to normal. With this treatment, the motile sperm are separated, concentrated and inseminated into the uterus. This can improve the chances of pregnancy by increasing the number of forwardly moving, normal shaped sperm that reach the egg.
In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)
This treatment is generally recommended for normal/mild/moderate male factor infertility. The semen sample is washed, concentrated and the sperm is placed directly with the eggs in the laboratory. Using this method the chances of fertilization are increased. The resulting fertilized eggs (embryos) are then transferred back into the uterus.
IVF with Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI)
ICSI is usually performed when there is severe male factor infertility. This technique maximizes the chance of the egg fertilizing as a single sperm is injected into the centre of the egg.
Description of the sperm cryopreservation procedure.
When providing the sample at the clinic, you must allow at least half an hour for a consultation with the laboratory. During this consultation, the risks associated with freezing your sample will be discussed.
A Declaration form and a Consent form must be signed prior to EmBIO clinic accepting your sample for freezing purposes. These two forms will be given to you to review before the procedure. Any questions you may have will be answered at that time. Please do not hesitate to contact EmBIO scientists if you have any questions at any time.
Unless prior consent forms are signed for the female partner to receive results, they will only be released to the person providing the sample. It is a requirement of EmBIO that the person whose sample was frozen makes contact with a scientist to obtain the freezing results. A formal report will be sent to your physician as requested.
How frozen sperm is used for IVF
- After washing and processing, the sperm is frozen and stored in a freezer for an indefinite period of time.
- To use frozen sperm, it must be thawed until it reaches room temperature.
- After thawing, it is analyzed again to determine if healthy sperm cells are still present in the sample.