Sperm freezing and storage is the procedure whereby sperm cells are frozen to preserve them for future use. Sperm cells have been frozen and thawed successfully for more than 40 years. By using special technology and then keeping sperm in liquid nitrogen at minus 196C, it can be stored for many years while maintaining a reasonable quality.
Unfortunately, life is unpredictable. There are many situations that could interfere with your future fertility. These may include:
Please ask your GP or specialist for a referral form to see one of our specialists at City Fertility Centre.
It is preferable if, before your first appointment, blood tests for hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV are arranged. We routinely screen for these infections because they may be transmitted through the semen, and to minimise the risk of contamination during storage. Once you receive your blood test results, please contact us to arrange, to book a time, to produce the sample at our clinic. At this time you will need to sign consent forms for the freezing and storage of sperm, which lasts for up to 10 years at a time.
Everyone’s situation is different. Most men freeze between two and five samples. Some choose to freeze many more. Often, the time interval before surgery, chemotherapy or radiation therapy will be the deciding factor. We recommend abstaining from intercourse and ejaculation for at least two days but not longer than five days before the first sample, and for about two days between the samples.
Scientifically, there is no limit to the length of time that sperm can be stored in a frozen state. However, the standard storage period for sperm is 10 years. This term can be exceeded only in certain circumstances. City Fertility Centre will explain whether you can do this, and for how long you may be able to store your sperm. Damage can occur to the sperm during freezing and thawing, not while it is frozen. The amount of time in storage does not influence the success rate.
There is a fee for freezing each semen sample.
After the initial twelve months, costs apply for storing one or more samples at City Fertility Centre. This annual storage fee applies regardless of the number of samples stored and is not refundable. Please contact us to ask about our current rates.
City Fertility Centre has reduced sperm-freezing fees for oncology patients. Please speak to our friendly staff for more information.
If you decide to freeze and store your sperm with City Fertility Centre, you must update us about any address changes.
Please inform your IVF doctor that you wish to use your frozen sperm sample. Your partner may require some basic fertility investigations. If the sperm samples are of good quality, they can be used for Intra-Uterine Insemination (IUI) at the time of ovulation. Because the sperm has been frozen and thawed, pregnancy rates are usually lower than in the general fertile population, about 5 per cent to 10 per cent a cycle.
Yes, there may be a problem with the number and quality of the sperm, especially in men who are about to undergo cancer treatment. Their underlying illness may have caused a reduction in the sperm count or in their motility (movement). In such situations it may be advisable to freeze even more specimens if time and treatment permit.
If the sperm count or motility is low, the thawed samples may not be suitable for intra-uterine inseminations. However, we can still use them for In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) and Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI), whereby individual sperm are injected directly into the eggs. These procedures are much more complex and costly, but can result in pregnancies even in cases where the sperm count is low or the sperm are functionally impaired.
Research has shown no difference in the rates of abnormalities or birth defects among children conceived with fresh versus frozen sperm. However, there are some theoretical concerns that chemotherapy drugs may have unknown effects on the sperm or the offspring. If possible, it is best to freeze the specimens before chemotherapy begins.
The following options are available if you decide to no longer keep your sperm cryopreserved:
Whatever option you decide on, signed consent forms are required. Please contact the fertility coordinators to discuss these options.
To find out more about sperm freezing, please read our Sperm Freezing Fact Sheet.
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