Sperm Cryopreservation (Freezing)
Sperm can be cryopreserved and stored at very low temperature for future attempts at conception using IUI or IVF. Semen cryopreservation is commonly performed when the male partner will not be available for timed insemination, for men who experience difficulty in the process of semen collection, and in men whose reproductive health is threatened by medical treatments such as cancer therapy.
The process for sperm cryopreservation is identical to the process for semen analysis, and requires that the male partner give a semen sample which is then processes by the Andrology lab. Depending on the reason for sperm cryopreservation, it will sometimes be recommended that the man freeze more than one sample for use with future fertility treatment.
Ejaculated sperm found in semen have been cryopreserved clinically since the 1980’s. Depending on the number and quality of the thawed semen, the attempt to produce a pregnancy in the partner will either be by simple timed insemination or by in vitro fertilization.
Testicular sperm can be recovered surgically from some but not all men with azoospermia (absence of sperm in the semen). Testicular sperm, when present, are usually suited to cryopreservation but will be few in number and will therefore require in vitro fertilization with ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection) to attempt to create a pregnancy. Our Virginia fertility clinic provides semen cryopreservation services.
The studies to date indicate that the cryopreservation process itself does not increase the risk of birth defects in children conceived with thawed sperm.