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Sperm Cryopreservation

Male Cryopreservation

Male fertility preservation is the process of freezing and storing sperm, for later use in assisted reproductive treatments.

What is Sperm Cryopreservation?

Sperm cryopreservation is a process of preserving sperm cells. It is also known as sperm freezing. After cryopreservation, semen can be stored successfully for several years.

Semen samples are collected and checked under a microscope to count sperm cells and check if they are healthy. These sperm cells are then frozen by fast freezing technique or vitrification and stored for future use. Depending on the amount available, the storage is done in thin tubes called ampoules.

When the individual is ready to have a pregnancy with his wife/ partner, one or more ampoules can be thawed (warmed to room temperature) for use sperms to fertilise the eggs.

Who should consider sperm cryopreservation?

Sperm cryopreservation is recommended for those men who –

  • undergo a medical therapy that can affect their fertility, such as chemotherapy or radiation, or testicular cancer surgery.
  • go through long-term medical treatment during which they are not allowed to conceive due to increased risks of having a baby with abnormalities
  • Not be available at the time of the IVF/ICSI due to work or other important engagements.
  • experience difficulty in producing a semen sample when required
  • Produce a very low sperm concentration and therefore are advised to have a frozen sperm sample back up.
  • are donating sperm

What is Testicular Tissue Freezing?

Testicular tissue freezing refers to a process where testicular tissue is removed surgically and frozen for future use. Later the tissue can be thawed to retrieve sperm.

The Takeaway

Men can preserve fertility by freezing and storing their sperm in advance, if for any reason they are at risk of losing their fertility. Also, if they want to donate sperm. The process is straight forward for those who can ejaculate. But for young boys or those who cannot ejaculate, there is some future promise and hope from testicular tissue cryopreservation. This modality currently remains an experimental treatment with no live births in humans so far.

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