Cryogenic freezing is the method of preserving sperm for future use. In a sense, it is fertility insurance. There are many reasons an individual would choose to prepare for possible sterility, including a scheduled vasectomy, pending cancer treatments, initiating hormone therapy, or having a high risk job. Frozen sperm can be stored for an indefinite amount of time. It can be thawed and used effectively in different types of fertility treatments, including in vitro fertilization (IVF), intrauterine insemination (IUI), or gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT). The oldest reported case of frozen sperm being used successfully in impregnation was a 25-year-old sample used in 2012.
Sperm Banking Options
Private or “family” sperm banks should not be confused with “donor” sperm banks. “Donor” sperm banks buy and sell sperm. Private banks store sperm for the family’s future use only. There are some local, private banks that are associated with a fertility clinic that stores sperm. In other cases, there are national companies that focus solely on private sperm storage. With the local option, one produces his sample at the bank. The national companies, such as Cryochoice, offer an at-home collection kit. There will be an initial processing fee and a storage fee. Storage fees for the local option are generally much more costly than the national companies.
Either option requires blood work to test for infectious diseases that could be transmitted through the sperm. Screens include, but are not limited to, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis B and C, and human T-lymphotropic virus (HTLV). Without prompt testing or with a positive result, the sample may not be usable.
Using the Sample
When the family decides it is time to use the sperm, the chosen fertility clinic coordinates with the bank for a scheduled release. After receiving all the required documentation, the sample is shipped in its cryogenic condition (-190C), and is thawed and prepped by the clinic staff. The family should allow four weeks or more for the release process. Depending on the size of the original sample, only part of it may be needed by the clinic for the insemination procedure. This could allow for more attempts or more pregnancies.
What It Boils Down To
Private sperm banking is a viable means to ensure a reproductive future. It has been a documented safe and effective method for over 50 years. It has given men who lost their ability to reproduce a chance to conceive and raise a child. If you are facing a situation that could render sterility, discuss sperm preservation with your physician, weigh the pros and cons, and decide if it is a beneficial option for you and your family.
By Chad Perry, Client Specialist, Cryochoice