What is Sperm Freezing?
Sperm freezing is the process of collecting, analyzing, freezing, and storing the sperm sample by a method named cryopreservation. Cryopreservation is a technique where cryoprotectants or antifreeze agents (chemicals) are used to store and prevent sperm damage. The frozen and stored semen samples can be used later for having children or can be used for donation. The semen samples are stored in sperm banks that ensure easy identification and retrieval.
Who can opt for freezing of sperms?
Through sperm freezing, a man can preserve his fertility for later conception. He can also consider donating sperms to an infertile couple, couples of the same sex wishing to have children. Some of the indications of sperm freezing are:
- Men advancing with age and want to delay having children.
- Men with deteriorating sperm parameters like low sperm numbers or quality.
- Men who are about to undergo cancer treatment or other medical treatments.
- Men considering a Vasectomy (sterilization or removal of vas deferens).
- Transgenders wishing to have children.
- Men with high-risk occupational exposure to chemicals, radiations, etc.
Pre-requisites of sperm freezing
Sperm Freezing requires a few tests and diagnostic procedures to be done. These diagnostic considerations include:
- Screening for infectious diseases such as HIV, hepatitis, syphilis, etc.
- The mature eggs are retrieved from the ovarian follicles through a minimally invasive procedure.
- Blood tests with complete hormonal assay may be required in some cases.
- Lab analysis of sperm quantity and quality.
How are the sperm collected and frozen?
After a complete analysis, the semen sample is collected either through a normal ejaculation process or by undergoing a sperm extraction. Men undergoing sperm pick up are asked to refrain from ejaculation or intercourse for at least 3 days before.
- Once the semen samples are obtained, they are washed, and the viable sperms are tested for shape, quantity, and motility.
- The sperms are then selected and separated into multiple vials for freezing.
- Cryoprotectants (antifreeze agents) are then poured into each vial. These cryoprotectants protect the sperms from DNA damage and ice crystal formations that can hamper sperm integrity.
- The frozen sperms are stored in nitrogen tanks at -196 degrees celsius. These sperms are thawed, washed, and tested before being used in IUI and IVF procedures.
Sperm vitrification: New technique of sperm freezing is sperm vitrification. This method allows rapid freezing by reducing the procedural time. However, vitrification may not be crucial for sperm preservation as sperm contains very little water compared to embryo and egg.
Sperm Freezing Success rate
Sperm can be frozen and stored successfully for more than 20 years and the success rate of sperm is also quite high. Sperm freezing is one of the effective processes especially for those looking to preserve their fertility.
If you are considering sperm preservation to have children in the future, OMYA fertility centre can help you through a completely safe and high-grade sperm preservation technique.