Sperm can be frozen and then stored for future use. Sperm cells have been successfully frozen and recovered for more than 50 years. Sperm can be frozen from an ejaculated sample or from samples collected surgically from the testicles themselves. The sperm sample is mixed with a cryoprotectant before freezing and then stored in liquid nitrogen at -196 ºC.
Under Western Australian Law, the sperm can be stored for a maximum length of 15 years.
Who would need sperm freezing?
Situations where sperm freezing may be suitable include:
- Prior to having a vasectomy.
- Prior to surgery.
- Pre-chemotherapy treatment, and also prior to exposure to any toxins that may possibly have adverse effects on sperm quality or production.
- If the male partner is likely to be unavailable to produce a semen sample at the time of his partner’s treatment.
- In cases of impotency.
- Where the semen quality is variable between one sample and the next.
- In cases of sperm retrieval from the testis or epididymis.
What are the risks with sperm freezing?
Sperm has been frozen for over 50 years and there appears to be no health risks associated with children born through its use. There is a very rare risk that all sperm frozen may not survive the thaw. PIVET will thaw out one of your frozen straws to ensure the sperm survive before you undergo any treatment.
PIVET also has an anonymous donor sperm bank for use by heterosexual, same sex couples and single women. Please contact the PIVET Medical Centre Donor Coordinator for more information on this.