Sperm Cryopreservation and the benefits of maintaining male fertility

Sperm cryopreservation is a sperm freezing process that helps men in preserving their fertility for a long period of time. Sperm preservation is critical for men who want to donate their sperm or become fathers at a later age.

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Sperm cryopreservation is a sperm freezing technique, where your sperm is kept in liquid nitrogen for later use. It is crucial for men who want to donate their sperm or maintain their ability to have children later in life.

Without this reproductive service, the quality of your sperm would diminish with age. As you enter your late 40s, your chances of naturally reproducing decrease. Sperm cryopreservation prevents the natural aging process by preserving your sperm. Let’s learn more about this process and its advantages.

Sperm cryopreservation process

Sperm cryopreservation entails gathering a sample of sperm, preparing it for freezing, and finally freezing it. When required, the sperm is thawed for use in artificial insemination, or IVF.

Before submitting the sample, an individual must normally refrain from sex for 2-3 days, however this length may vary. A blood test is often conducted prior to collecting the sperm of a man as the lab is required to identify the existence of any sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Some laboratories recommend taking at least two samples. However, a person should see a doctor about their specific needs. They may require further samples depending on their sperm quality and the number of children a person wishes to have in the future. The cryopreservation technique involves a very basic series of steps that include:

  • Your sperm is obtained by masturbation.
  • Your sperm is then transported to the laboratory within the first hour of generation.
  • The andrology technician analyzes the quality and quantity of sperm.

The technician simply needs a tiny sample for this test. Following the test, andrologists separate the remaining sperm into multiple vials. The number of vials depends on the sample amount and mobile sperm per milliliter.

Overall, the sperm cryopreservation procedure takes about three hours. On the next day, an andrologist thaws the test vial. The next step in the technique is to examine the mobility and total amount of defrosted sperm. If quality or quantity are insufficient, your fertility clinic may recommend alternative collection methods.

Causes behind sperm preservation

The reasons why a man considers sperm cryopreservation may include:

Medical conditions: Men consider sperm cryopreservation for a variety of reasons, including a cancer diagnosis or a medical condition that may limit their ability to have children in the future.

High-Risk Situations: Many people choose to freeze their sperm before beginning high-risk careers, military deployments, or extended travel.

Fertility after a vasectomy: If you are considering a medical surgery such as a vasectomy, sperm cryopreservation could be a smart backup plan in case you decide to have children later in life.

Partner’s ovulation cycle: Sometimes your partner may ovulate when you are not present. In such cases, frozen sperm is an excellent choice for IUI treatment.

Tests done to determine sperm quality

Before freezing your sperm, your doctor will evaluate a small amount of the sample. They will examine:

  • The total count of sperm cells
  • The total amount of living sperm
  • The percentage of sperm that move

Between 24 and 48 hours after freezing your sperm sample, your doctor will test a small portion to determine the percentage of sperm that survived the freezing process. In general, sperm from a high-quality sperm sample recovers better following thawing.

Based on the test findings before and after freezing, your doctor may suggest the appropriate amount of semen samples required to increase your chances of conception.

Benefits of sperm cryopreservation

The first successful human birth via sperm freezing took place in 1953. In this instance, the sperm was temporarily preserved on dry ice.

By 1963, biologists had achieved considerable advances in sperm cryopreservation. They demonstrated the use of liquid nitrogen to preserve sperm. Over time, scientists have improved the cryopreservation procedure. And now since the 1950s, it has had a high and consistent success rate.

There are numerous benefits to freezing your sperm, including:

Fertility:  Male infertility can be caused by medical treatments, biological factors, or the environment. Preserving your healthy sperm helps to retain your fertility and gives you the option of having biological children if your circumstances alter.

Health and safety: Using cryopreserved sperm does not raise the risk of congenital disorders. Babies conceived using cryopreserved sperm are as healthy as those conceived naturally.

Longevity: When properly preserved, sperm samples do not degrade even after several years of deep freezing.

Some sperm will perish throughout the freezing and unfreezing process. However, because people and samples vary, outcomes are different for everyone. This is one of the reasons fertility clinics recommend storing multiple samples.

Risk of sperm cryopreservation

Sperm freezing carries minimal risk. For example, your sperm cells may lose fertility and viability during the thawing and freezing process. More than half of the sperm engaging do not survive this procedure. Nonetheless, the overall process has a good success rate.

Your sperm can be preserved for years and remain as excellent as fresh semen. The most important thing is to ensure that they are properly preserved. When collecting your sperm, andrologists use a clean, properly labeled container and sterile instruments throughout the procedure. This removes the chance of contamination.

FAQ’s

Can I freeze sperm at home?

Sperm can be collected at home for freezing. However, sperm cannot be successfully frozen at home. Sperm freezing has to be performed in a laboratory under suitable quality control conditions.

How are sperm frozen and thawed?

Andrologists place the collected sperm into tiny vials filled with a particular freezing solution. The vials are placed in liquid nitrogen-cooled storage freezers. When the sperm is ready for use, it is carefully thawed in the laboratory until it reaches room temperature.

How to determine if sperm is healthy?

Semen analysis is a lab-based test for sperm count, size, shape, and motility. A normal sperm test result shows a sperm count of at least 15 million per milliliter, with at least one-third of the sperm moving forward.

Is male infertility permanent?

Many factors can influence male fertility, including overall health and lifestyle. In certain circumstances, no reason can be found. Despite its hurdles, male infertility is not a permanent illness, and with the right diagnosis and treatment, many men can become fathers.

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