Semen Freezing

Elective Sperm Freezing In addition to freezing sperm for men as part of their fertility treatment or before receiving chemotherapy or radiotherapy, MFS.

How long can you store sperm?

Those sperm that die do so within the first 48 hours of freezing, and the attrition rate thereafter is minimal. Frozen semen can be stored for as long as 50 years without additional sperm deterioration beyond that caused by the original freezing process.

What temperature can you freeze sperm?

Sperm freezing is cooling the sperm cells to a very low temperature and then storing them either in liquid nitrogen (-196 °C) or liquid nitrogen vapour (-150 °C).

Sperm freezing and storage is the procedure whereby sperm cells are frozen to preserve them for future use. Sperm cells have been frozen and thawed successfully for more than 40 years. By using special technology and then keeping sperm in liquid nitrogen at -196°C, it can be stored for many years while maintaining a reasonable quality.

Who would benefit from Sperm Banking?

A patient or a couple may wish to bank sperm for the following reasons:

  • To use as a back-up in infertility treatment when the sperm quality is known to be variable
  • When a man whose partner is undergoing treatment at the VFC has difficulties collecting semen by masturbation
  • To use in infertility treatment when the man may be absent during treatment (travels frequently or lives elsewhere)
  • When sperm are being retrieved surgically from the man (e.g. “MESA”, “PESA” or “TESE” procedures)
  • When the man is about to receive medical treatment which will/may affect his fertility
  • For men in “high risk” occupations where they are at greater risk of testicular injury

How Is the Sperm Actually Frozen?

Frozen sperm must be stored in extremely cold temperatures (-196 F), but in order to ensure that the fewest possible sperm are damaged, the freezing must be gradual. Generally, the following procedure is followed:

  1. If the sperm hasn’t been previously tested, a comprehensive semen analysis should be performed on the first specimen in order to provide a complete picture of the sperm quantity and quality. Make sure that the sperm bank conducts a thorough semen analysis before banking. This will give you significant information on the quality of the sperm.
  2. Each subsequent specimen is analyzed prior to freezing to assess total number of moving sperm.
  3. Immediately after the specimen is analyzed, it is divided into smaller batches and transferred into vials for freezing. A special compound (a cryoprotectant) is added to aid the freezing process.
  4. The test tubes are gradually frozen in liquid nitrogen vapor. After 30-60 minutes they are transferred into liquid nitrogen tanks for permanent frozen storage.
  5. After a minimum of 48 hours have elapsed from the time of the initial freezing, an initial “test sample” is thawed and tested again to ascertain from each specimen how well the sperm survived the freezing. After the banking is complete, the results may be sent to you, as well as possibly discussed with your primary care physician. This information will be important to determine which specimen vials to thaw for an insemination.

Considering Fertility Preservation?

Request an Appointment with a Fertility Specialist.