Sperm Cryopreservation


“Sperm freezing for future use”

Recent advancement in treatment has given hope to a large number of men to recover from the infertility phase caused by cancer, or any other factor. Sperm cryopreservation though was introduced in 1960, gained popularity in the 1970s, since then, most men thereafter chose to bank their sperm and embrace fatherhood in their late years. Before leaping on the techniques and methods used in sperm freezing let’s get its overview. 

Sperm cryopreservation is the process of freezing sperm and storing it for future use. Sample semen is collected and analyzed under a microscope to count sperm cells and determine health levels. After sperm analysis, this obtained semen is preserved.

These donated sperms are quarantined for three or six months and screened for infections before use for the successful IVF fertility treatment. We at Vatsalya, one of the few sperm freezing centers in Nepal, offer a unique blend of patient-oriented care and modern state-of-the-art reproductive technology. Once the couple decides to sperm freeze or uses one of the stored sperm, our specialist shall carefully monitor the patient's condition and plan out a personalized treatment plan for higher IVF success with sperm freezing. 

Techniques for sperm freezing and storage

Sperm freezing process uses two major conventional techniques: slow freezing and rapid freezing. The collected sperm has a validity of 55 years; however, the policy of the fertility center generally is for a maximum period of 10 years. 

  • Slow Freezing

    This sperm freezing method consists of progressive sperm cooling over a period of 2-4 hours, using a semi-programmable freezer (automatically or manually). The manual method declines the temperature of semen while adding a cryoprotectant into the liquid of nitrogen. The acquired sample is frozen at a temperature of 5°C to 80°C. Automated method nitrogen is poured in the semen storage container once programmed. The semen is frozen in between 20°C to −80°C.
  • Rapid Freezing

    This involves direct contact between sterile straw holding semen and nitrogen composition for eight to ten minutes, followed by absorption of liquid nitrogen at -196 °C. 
  • Thawing

    The cell must allow the sperm to recover its normal biological activities while avoiding thermal changes. Generally, the cryopreservation uses a thawing protocol of 37°C and higher for rapid heating. Once the cells are thawed, they are separated from the cryopreservation medium for the centrifuging purpose. 

Conditions for human sperm cryopreservation

The major benefit of sperm freezing is to allow a man to maintain his fertility and use the sperm at later date. 

General reasons for sperm cryopreservation are:

  • Men undergoing prostate, testicles, and cancer surgery.
  • Men planning for a vasectomy.
  • Men engaged in high-risk professions with exposures to radiation, chemicals, and extreme heat causing sterility.
  • Men facing ejaculatory dysfunction. 
  • Low sperm count or poor-quality sperm.
  • Male changing their gender to female.

Sperm Cryopreservation Process

Sperm freezing commences after the collection of ejaculated semen which is frozen for future fertility treatments such as In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF). The sperm cryopreservation process involves: 

  • Routine analysis for infection (Hepatitis, HIV, and Syphilis).
  • Collection of semen sample or sperm extraction.
  • Lab analysis for sperm quality and quantity check.
  • Preserving and storing sperm for an indefinite period. 

Sperm is collected through masturbation. The obtained sample semen is analyzed for quantity, shape, and movement within each specimen. And if the patient fails to produce quality semen, the surgery option is taken into consideration, to directly obtain the sperm from testicles. 

Additionally, the samples are separated for the sperm freezing process. Specialized cryoprotectant agents are used to protect sperm cells. The frozen sperm are stored in the IVF lab and later used for Intrauterine Insemination (IUI), Intra-Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) and In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF). 

Success rates of sperm freezing

The success of sperm freezing relies on the health of the individual. If the patient is suffering from any severe illness or health issue, then it may affect the motility and quality of the sperm. Secondly, the study states that only 60% of the sperm survives the thawing and freezing process. Thirdly, the success depends on the female partner’s age, method of assisted reproduction treatment (ART), and fertility status. Even if the sperm count is low, IVF success with sperm freezing can still be achieved, but it may seek complex treatment of IVF, IUI or ICSI. 

The risk associated with sperm freezing

Sperms are less sensitive to cryopreservation damage because of low water content and high fluid membrane. However, a minimal percentage of damage may incur during the freezing and thawing of human sperm. IVF success with sperm freezing may decline when the preserved human sperm forms intracellular or extracellular ice crystals, get an osmotic shock and faces cellular dehydration. These risks are only associated with the collected sperm and not wholly in men's infertility. 

For sperm freezing in Nepal, contact us at Vatsalya. Apart from clinical support, our fertility center has been offering counseling through the guidance of oncology experts and fertility mentors. To know more please connect with us!

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