By Dr Leena Yadav
Semen cryopreservation (commonly called sperm banking) is a procedure to preserve sperm cells.
Semen can be used successfully indefinitely after freezing . Sperm cells have been frozen, thawed and successfully used in treatment for more than 40 years, although not all sperm survive the freezing procedure.
For human sperm, the longest reported successful storage is 22 years.
It can be used for sperm donation ,where the recipient wants to donate for a treatment to a person in a different time or place,
as a means of preserving fertility for men undergoing vasectomy or treatments that may compromise their fertility, such as chemotherapy , radiation therapy or surgery or
if you have a low sperm count or the quality of your sperm is deteriorating ,
you have difficulty producing a sample on the day of fertility treatment ,
you are at risk of injury or death (eg, you’re a member of the Armed Forces who is being deployed to a war zone)
What happens when sperm are frozen ?
Before you agree to the freezing and storage of your sperm , you will be screened for infectious diseases, including HIV and hepatitis B and C.
You will need to give written consent for your sperm to be stored.
At the clinic, you produce a fresh sample of sperm and then the sperms are frozen and stored in a storage tank containing liquid nitrogen.
How much control do you have over what happens to your sperm ?
When you first freeze your sperm, the clinic will ask you to fill out consent forms.
The forms allow you to specify:
what will happen to your sperm should you become unable to make decisions for yourself or die
how long you want to store your sperm (the standard storage period is 10 years)
whether your partner (if you have one) can use the sperm later to create a family and whether you wish to be recorded as the father of any child born as a result of fertility treatment after your death
whether your sperm can be used in research or donated for use in someone else’s treatment . You can vary or withdraw your consent at any time, either before treatment or before the sperm are used in research.
What happens when sperms are stored ?
When you store sperm, make sure you understand the limits on the storage time and keep in contact with the clinic.
The standard storage period for sperm is normally 10 years. This period can be exceeded only in certain circumstances. Your clinician will be able to explain whether you can do this, and how long you may be able to store your sperm. You must let the clinic know if you change address. This is so they can contact you when the storage period is coming to an end. If they cannot contact you when the storage period ends, they will take your sperm out of storage and allow them to perish.
What happens when I want to use my frozen sperms ?
Your treatment options may include IUI, IVF or, if your sperm are not of optimum quality, ICSI.
What is my chance of having a baby with stored sperms ?
Some sperm do not survive or are damaged during freezing. This means that after freezing there may be a reduction in quality. Some frozen sperm samples that are of poor quality can only be used for Intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).
For each treatment cycle, the success rate varies depending on the age of the woman. If the woman is:
under 35, the success rate is around 19%
35–39, the success rate is around 15%
40–42, the success rate is around 7%