Sperm Freezing

Sperm freezing is often referred to as fertility preservation because it allows a man to preserve his fertility, i.e. the chance of conceiving a child with his own sperm, until a later point in his life when he is ready to have a child.

Sperm freezing can be performed for medical or social reasons.

Sperm Freezing Checklist:

  • Semen analysis
  • Consultation
  • Screening tests and consents
  • Sample(s) for freezing

Who might wish to freeze sperm?

  1. Men considering cancer treatment or other treatment that may cause them to lose their fertility (e.g. chemotherapy or radiotherapy)

    Permanent loss of spermatogenesis can occur from other medical treatments, including chemotherapy, radiotherapy or radical surgery. Sperm freezing prior to commencing such treatment will preserve fertility to a later date when their disease is in remission. The possibility of preserving your fertility has become more important with the ever-increasing survival rates for cancer.

  2. Backup for fertility treatment

    If you find it difficult to produce a sample or if you will be away at the time of your partner’s treatment may wish to freeze sperm as a temporary backup.

  3. Men planning to undergo a vasectomy or sex change

    Men wishing to undergo a sex change operation or vasectomy may consider freezing their sperm in order to preserve their fertility ahead commencing hormone therapy or surgery.

  4. Men undergoing surgical sperm retrieval

    If you are undergoing an operation to retrieve sperm sperm, those samples will be frozen for future use.

How long can I store my sperm?

Sperm frozen for medical reasons can be stored for up to 55 years. Sperm frozen for social reasons can be stored for up to 10 years, however, this period can be extended to a maximum of 55 years if the man or his partner is likely to become infertile during the original storage period.

The sperm freezing process

A man considering sperm freezing will first need to have a fertility check-up, including a semen analysis and a consultation with a doctor in order to determine if sperm freezing is a good option. The embryologist and doctor will advise you on the number samples they feel you should freeze.

If you decide to proceed with sperm freezing, you will need to be screened for infectious diseases before treatment. You will also meet with one of our nurses to complete some consent forms for treatment.

Unfortunately some sperm do not survive freezing and, if the initial sample is poor, this may mean there is a very poor survival rate after thawing. However, this can be compensated for using intracyto plasmic sperm injection (see separate leaflet).

The sperm samples are stored in liquid nitrogen until needed in monitored and alarmed tanks at the clinic.

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