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What is the process of freezing sperm?

8 fertility expert(s) answered this question

Answer from: Alexia Chatziparasidou,  MSc, PMI-RMP

Embryologist, Consultant Clinical Embryologist, Director of Embryolab Academy, Co-Founder of Embryolab Fertility Clinic Embryolab Fertility Clinic
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Sperm freezing is a method that we have been using for many many years. It involves the sperm assessment obviously. We need to check the sperm and assess the quality before freezing and afterwards we follow the protocol which involves the gradual reduction of the temperature until it’s fully frozen and stored into minus 196 degrees. With this method which works very well for good and low quality spermatozoa, we have achieved to preserve the fertility or to store the sperm especially in cases of fertility preservation and with this method, the men have the option now to use the sperm at a later stage. As long as the efficiency of this method is concerned, we do have a reduction in the quality after thaw. We do expect to have a lower number of motile spermatozoa. The degree of reduction normally depends on the quality of the sperm initially frozen. What is the biggest challenge nowadays, since the method we do have to freeze the embryo will have an impact on the quality of the sperm is the freezing of the very low sperm samples. The samples that have a rare presence of spermatozoa where a handful of spermatozoa are found after searching for, let’s say, few hours so, this is one of the current challenges where we need to improve our technique, our approach and the efficiency of our current approaches in order to give the option to these men that only produce a tiny number of spermatozoa to preserve their fertility.

Answer from: Kevin McEleny, BSc(Hons), BM, FRCS(Eng), FRCS (Ed), FRCS(Urol), PhD

Urologist, Male fertility specialist, Urologist at Newcastle Fertility Centre
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As I say, many people don’t use it, they’re not really part of any standard guidance. Some people use them in situations where there’s I guess fertility of unknown calls, whether conventional sperm parameters are normal, this test might show that there is high level of DNA fragmentation but it’s difficult to say what that really means in terms of the couple’s chances of conceiving. If, for example, you had a varicocele, the varicocele might cause increased levels of sperm DNA fragmentation and if you were to repeat the test after treating the varicocele, you might see that level has come down perhaps but it’s a non-specific test and its precise role hasn’t been fully worked out yet. I think more research is needed on it.

Answer from: Melvin H. Thornton, Associate Professor

Gynaecologist, Medical Director & IVF Director Global Fertility & Genetics
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If you want to go for sperm freezing, particularly long-term freezing, you want to go to a sperm bank, and at the sperm bank, they will do what’s called infectious disease screening, which will screen you for things such as hepatitis, HIV, syphilis before the process. Then once you’ve got your infectious disease results back then you need to go back to the sperm clinic of the sperm bank, and masturbate in a cup. Most men that masturbate in the cup would have at least four vials of sperm to freeze if they have a good volume of ejaculate. Sometimes if the volume is low, there may only be one vial. So the question becomes how many vials you need in the future.

If you’re going to be using that sperm for what we call artificial insemination for your partner in the future, you may want to have at least 4-6 vials of sperm frozen for the future, because artificial insemination sometimes takes 3-4 inseminations before most women are successful. I always tell my clients the more vials the better. Sometimes this will have to be done over a period of time. So for example, over a week period, as long as you have at least one to two days of absence in between the collections; that’s enough time. But as to why it’s important; if you’re faced with a diagnosis of cancer or surgical removal of the testicles that you plan well in advance prior to the treatment to freeze the sperm, because you may need multiple visits to have enough sperm to freeze for the future.

 

Answer from: Eugenia Rocafort, BSc, MSc

Embryologist, Senior Embryologist ESHRE and ASEBIR certified Quironsalud Hospital Barcelona
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What we recommend for freezing a sperm is to have at least two days of withdrawal. That day we recommend to come to the center to obtain the sample by masturbation. Later on we evaluate this sample and we will perform a spermogram. We will freeze the sperm in source. Depending on the volume (if the amount will allow us) we will perform a freezing test: we will thaw a straw to see how the sperm survive and if it’s of good quality enough to do the cycle.

Answer from: Apostolos Georgiannakis, M.Sc., Ph.D

Andrologist, Sperm Quality Specialist
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So the process of freezing sperm is very easy to perform in the lab, although we need to make sure that whoever is freezing the sperm does that with much care. Usually it involves the mix of the ejaculate with freezing media. That freezing media is being added drop by drop to that sample and then that sample can be stored in liquid nitrogen for many many years safely without having any indications that the freezing of the sperm can affect the DNA quality of that spermatozoa being frozen. Obviously, the way we are handling the samples in the lab, we depend on the quality of the initial sample or if we need to filter that sample and concentrate that sperm found that ejaculates or if we can go and straight ahead mix the sample with the freezing media and store it. So the process of freezing sperm overall is a very simple technique to perform in the lab. It involves just the use of freezing media. There might be a little bit of sample handling, depending on the initial quality of the sample. It it’s quite simple

Answer from: Ahmed Amer, DipRCPath, MBA, MSc, MEng

Embryologist, Senior Embryologist ARGC Limited
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Freezing sperm involves the patient producing a sample and then that sample being analyzed first to us that’s the viability of that sample and then add cryoprotectant which basically protects the sperm sample from damage caused from the excessively cold temperatures of freezing and because the sperm is frozen at minus 197 degrees celsius. Once this effect is added to the sperm it in a way dehydrates it though can cause damage to the sperm and it is frozen. The other option of freezing sperm as well is by a testicular biopsy. If a patient, for example, does not have sperm in their ejaculate a testicular biopsy can be done with a surgeon. Basically the testes are biopsied, processed and frozen for later use as well.

Answer from: Ioannis Zervomanolakis, PhD

Gynaecologist, Obstetrician Hygeia IVF Athens
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Freezing sperm is much simpler compared to freezing oocytes because the whole procedure itself is very simple. We just need the announcement two days before, and the patient comes to the clinic, let his sperm sample be frozen, and this is it.

Answer from: Bárbara Silvera Gijón, Embriologist

Embryologist, Embriologist Quirónsalud Valencia
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The freezing of sperm is a simple and routine procedure, 

Semen is the fluid that contains sperm. Freezing involves the collection and storage of semen for future use. Before collecting the sample, tests will be carried out to rule out not having infectious diseases, and to make sure that its storage is safe, avoiding cross contamination.

To obtain the best quality sample, you should not have sexual intercourse or masturbate for 2-3 days prior to collection. In some cases, it is possible to collect the sample at home, but you will need to bring it to the clinic no later than an hour. At the clinic, you’ll be asked to produce a fresh sample of sperm, which will be mixed with a special fluid (a cryoprotectant) to protect the sperm from damage during freezing. Before freezing, the sperm sample is usually divided between a number of containers called straws. This means that not all the sperm needs to be thawed at once and can be used in multiple treatments. The samples are then cooled slowly and plunged into liquid nitrogen.

About this question:

How is sperm frozen in the IVF laboratory?

Male patients can freeze their sperm for use in their own future IVF treatment or to donate to a sperm bank. Before you can have your sperm frozen your genetic material would require testing.

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Fertility Road Magazine
The only magazine for patients devoted to IVF treatment.
15 articles & 68 pages of "All About IVF"