Sperm freezing is one of the ways in which men can preserve their fertility in the long term. It’s a natural phenomenon that fertility in men decreases after the age of 40 and even earlier in some cases.
For gay men(and for some heterosexual couples too), the question of fertility is challenging. They may not be sure about having biological children of their own or may not be in a stable relationship to have kids at that moment.
This is where methods like sperm freezing come in. Through cryopreservation of sperm, gay men can keep their fertility preserved for a later stage if and when they choose to have kids of their own.
This blog will look at the process of freezing sperm and why it is a popular way for men to preserve their fertility in the long term. Read on.
What is Sperm Freezing?
As the name indicates, it is the process by which a sperm sample is collected and stored in liquid nitrogen. This is usually done at a sperm bank or a fertility clinic. The stored sperm can eventually be thawed and used for fertility treatments such as In-vitro fertilization (IVF), Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), and Intra-uterine insemination (IUI).
For gay men, gestational surrogacy is necessary if they choose to have biologic children. In this process, a gestational surrogate carries the embryo formed from the sperm of one of the partners and the egg from either a donor or a close relative of the other partner. In cases where gay partners opt to use gestational surrogacy to have a child, banked sperm may come in handy.
Why Opt for Sperm Freezing?
There are quite a few reasons why men choose to bank their sperm. Some of the common reasons are below.
Cancer treatment including chemo and radiation can reduce sperm counts close to zero. In most cases, even low doses of chemo or radiation have been shown to cause male infertility. At the very least the sperm is affected by decreased mobility and decreased morphology.
In cases where you are planning to undergo cancer treatment soon or if you want to protect yourself from the risk of infertility due to cancer treatment at a later date, sperm freezing is a viable option.
As we touched on above, male fertility decreases with age. It’s usually the case that above 40 years old, the quality and quantity of your sperm is reduced. Sperm cryopreservation is a way for fertility preservation if you are choosing to have kids at a later age. In a day and age where it is common for gay or straight partners to get together when they are of advanced age, freezing sperm and eggs may be a great idea.
High-Risk or Traveling Jobs
People who are employed in the military or other such high-risk professions also can choose to freeze their sperm for later use. This helps them in case they have infertility issues later or if they need to make this available to their partners at some point in time when they are not available.
Several other medical treatments can cause low sperm count or reduce the quality of the sperm. Some of these include ulcer and arthritis drugs as well as long term steroid use. Again, fertility can be protected in case you need to take these medications.
What is the Process for Freezing Sperm with RHWC?
Let’s quickly look at the sperm freezing process as well. It is fairly simple and can be done pretty quickly. The first step is approaching a fertility specialist or andrologist. Our panel of specialists at RHWC will help you assess your condition. Blood tests are also needed to check for sexually transmitted diseases such as hepatitis B and syphilis.
Following this, the next step is usually semen sample collection. This can be done at the fertility center or the sperm bank. It can also be done at home. Collection happens in sterile cups and usually it is via masturbation. It is usually advised to not ejaculate for 3-5 days before sample collection to aid the collection of the best sample.
The andrologist will then do a complete semen analysis. This is to assess sperm quality and ensure that only good sperm cells are being stored. If there is an issue with the motility or morphology of the sperm, then fertility treatment may be needed to improve this before freezing.
If the sample is of sufficient quality, the next process is freezing and storing the sperm. The samples are placed in vials along with a cryoprotectant and stored in freezers at minus 196 centigrade.
In certain cases, the sperm sample will have to be obtained via surgery. This is the case in people who have undergone a vasectomy or have no sperm in their ejaculate. The sperm sample is collected directly from the testicular if it is being obtained surgically.
There’s also the issue of paperwork. A consent letter will need to be signed. It talks about what to be done in case of death or disability and the ownership of the sample in case such a situation arises.
How Effective is Sperm Freezing?
The short answer is that it is very effective. This is a method that has been in use since the 1950s and there have been cases where sperm that has been frozen for over 20 years have been successfully used. Generally, the success rates for reproductive treatment using frozen sperm are quite high. The sperm that is frozen undergoes a thawing process before it can be used. Usually, only about 50% of the sperm survive the freeze-thaw cycle and the sperm that survives are usually good quality sperm.
Each milliliter of ejaculate contains 40-300 million sperm. For IUI you need 10 million sperms. If it is IVF with ICSI, you only need one sperm for each mature egg.
How Much Does Freezing Sperm Cost?
There is usually an initial cost involved and the rest is the yearly storage costs. The initial cost is usually less than $1000. For the yearly storage costs, the amount usually varies from $150-$500 a year depending on the service provider and other parameters. Overall, freezing sperm is not a very costly affair.
How can RHWC Help You in Preserving Your Fertility in the Long Term?
Sperm freezing is quite a popular way for men to preserve their fertility and prepare themselves for all eventualities that may arise in life. RHWC helps you get the right results by working closely with you. Our expert doctors will advise you on the best fertility treatment options, the process to freeze your sperm, and anything else you may need for building a family when you want it.
Get in touch with us today to get started!