Freezing sperm, or sperm cryopreservation, is a simple procedure used to store sperm cells for future use. Here are the top 5 questions patients usually ask regarding freezing sperm:
How is sperm cryo-preserved?
Currently, sperm are stored in tanks containing liquid nitrogen at minus 196 degrees C. Some additives are placed into cryoprotectants to help aid sperm in the process. Such, additives can include glycerol, DMSO, and sugars. They are chemicals that reduce injury of cells during the freezing and thawing process. Similar to a semen analysis, the male produces a specimen, which is then processed by the Andrology laboratory. When a patient decides to use their specimen, a given sample will be thawed. Thawing is a simple process reversing freezing.
Why cryo-preserve sperm?
Some reasons why men cryopreserve are:
- They will be out of town at the time of treatment
- They need a backup specimen due to trouble producing
- They have future or current medical treatments that can threaten their reproductive health
How many sperm samples should I freeze?
The correct number would depend on the patients plan. Usually a sample or two are sufficient. However, in patients that are undergoing cancer treatment, it would make sense to cryo-preserve several samples.
Does freezing affect the quality of the sperm?
Well, that depends on many factors. First, the original sample and its parameters have to be evaluated. Every sample has different quality and quantity. Also, it depends on how well the specimen survives the freezing and thawing process.
Will freezing and thawing sperm cause birth defects?
No. To date, research indicates there is no increase in the rate of birth defects.
The good news is that it is relatively cheap to freeze a sperm sample. Most facilities will charge no more than a couple of hundred dollars for the process. Currently, in Illinois, most insurance companies do NOT pay for sperm freezing.
It should be noted not all facilities hold sperm for an unlimited time. There is the option to hold the specimen in long term storage facilities after treatment.
To see a fertility specialist who provides sperm freezing, make an appointment at one of InVia's four convenient Chicagoland locations.