Sperm Preservation, What do you need to know?
Sperm preservation as the name suggests, is a procedure to preserve and store the sperms after careful screening and analysis for later use. The procedure of sperm preservation has a number of applications and indications; such as:
- Artificial fertilization
- Treatment of fertility disorders
- Sperm donation (according to unpublished statistics, approximately 30,000 birth each year in United States are attributed to artificial inseminsation)
Regardless of the screening results and protocols of freezing, some sperms fail to endure the process and gets wasted. It is noteworthy that for indications like sperm donation, it is recommended to store the sperms for a period of at least six months to exclude the risk of infections.
Can I preserve and store my sperms?
Most common indications of opting for sperm preservation are listed as under:
- You are going through a treatment which can affect your potency; such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy for a malignant lesion
- You are considering permanent sterilization (by surgical procedures like vasectomy).
- Your sperms quantity and quality is worsening gradually over time due to a medical or organic health issue such as Diabetes or hypertension.
- You are willing for a change in gender and going for a surgery.
- You are suffering from a terminal illness or works for an institution where your sexual health, fertility or life is at risk (such as armed forces, chemical radiation industry etc.)
What happens when the sperms are preserved?
- Your clinician will always explain you the entire procedure if you are willing to go for sperm preservation and storage.
- Your sample will be screened for infectious diseases, such as HIV, hepatitis B and C (in addition to other ailments).
- You will be asked to give a written consent for your sperms to be stored.
- You will have to yield a fresh sample of sperms at the clinic.
- That sample will be stored and frozen in a tank containing liquid nitrogen.
How much control do I have over what happens to my preserved sperms?
Your consent form for sperm preservation collects other relevant information about the procedure and fate of sample. For example, some salient questions are:
- If you become incapable of making your own decision or die any time, what will happen to your sperms?
- For what period of time do you want to stock your sperms? (standard time is 10 years)
- After you die, your partner if any, can create a family using your sperms?
- Can your name be recorded as a father of any child born as a consequence of your sperms in a treatment?
- Can your sperms be utilized in a research paper or not?
- Can your sperms be utilized for someone else’s treatment?
- Any other cause you may have for your sperms being used.
You can only take out your consent and sperms before the process for treatment or research had started.
What happens when the sperms are preserved?
After storing the sperms, keep yourself in contact with the clinic for:
- Knowing and understanding the limit of period for which your sperms are being stored. Standard period is 10 years which can be extended up to the maximum of 55 years, as per the clinician’s instructions.
- Knowing that when your sperms storage period is coming to an end. If the clinic is unable to contact you and the period of your storage expires, the clinic have the right to discard your sample.
You can use your stored sperms for the following treatments:
- Intra uterine insemination
- In vitro fertilization.
- Intracytoplasmic sperm injection
With stored sperms what are the chances of my baby to born?
The chances of baby to be born depends upon the feasibility of sperms being stored and the age of the women. The sperms stored do not always survive and they might also undergo reduction with deterioration in the quality of sperms. Success rates with women’s ages are as follow:
- 35 years or less: 19% success rate.
- 35-39 years : 15% success rate.
- 40-42 years : 7% success rate.
What are the risks of freezing and storing sperms?
So far there are no statistics or reported cases of adding risk of genetic/ physiological diseases in babies born as a result of sperm preservation techniques.
What are the options for men or boys undergoing the cancer treatment?
Storage of sperms can be commenced in males at an age of 13 years and onwards. A new technique involves the storage of testicular tissue for patients undergoing a cancer therapy. This tissue storage and freezing can be done even before the puberty, and can be helpful in restoring the fertility after the cancer therapy. Other classic benefit is, promotion of sperm development in a person who is unable to produce sperms. Every clinic licensed by HFEA for sperm storage can store testicular tissues.
2. Klosky, J. L., Randolph, M. E., Navid, F., Gamble, H. L., Spunt, S. L., Metzger, M. L., … & Hudson, M. M. (2009). Sperm cryopreservation practices among adolescent cancer patients at risk for infertility. Pediatric hematology and oncology, 26(4), 252-260.
3. Johnson, M. D., Cooper, A. R., Jungheim, E. S., Lanzendorf, S. E., Odem, R. R., & Ratts, V. S. (2013). Sperm banking for fertility preservation: a 20-year experience. European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Biology, 170(1), 177-182.