Cryopreservation — When sperm freezing preserves fertility
Cryopreservation of sperm — also called sperm freezing — is a way of preserving a man’s fertility. In this process, sperm samples are frozen in order to be able to father children at a later time. Sperm Freezing is by far not only interesting for sperm donation, but also under many other conditions.
Cryopreservation — When sperm freezing preserves fertility
Sperm Freezing to preserve fertility in men
In the 21st century, both women and men are getting older and older before they think about having children for the first time. While women eventually run out of eggs, men can theoretically have children as long as they are able to ejaculate. However, studies have shown that sperm quality also declines in men as they age. Researchers led by Dr. Guy Morris of the Centre for Reproductive and Genetic Health concluded in their study of 5,000 participants that 61% of men under the age of 51 met WHO (World Health Organization) standards for sperm quality, compared to only 42% of men over the age of 51. The fertilization rate for ICSI treatments was also declines the older the men are. In addition, the risk of certain genetic disorders is also higher as sperm age increases. So if you have good reasons for wanting to have your sperm frozen, you can have this done by so-called cryopreservation.
Reasons for sperm freezing
When talking about sperm freezing, it is usually associated with sperm donation. Couples or even singles can use the frozen sperm cells of a donor to fulfill their child wish. But Sperm Freezing can also be a great added value in other life situations.
Freezing sperm before cancer treatment
Men diagnosed with testicular or prostate cancer may lose their fertility due to their treatment. For those who become ill at a young age, sperm freezing gives them the opportunity to father children even after radiation, chemotherapy or complete removal of the testicles. In preparation for such treatments, it is still not common that patients are approached about the possibility of cryopreserving their sperm to preserve their fertility. This makes it all the more important to take the initiative yourself.
Sperm Freezing in dangerous jobs
In rare cases, certain working conditions can lead to loss of fertility. This is the case, when men are exposed to intense heat (for example as a stoker in a ship) or work with chemicals on a daily basis. It is worthwhile for men to look into the possibility of cryopreservation in these cases in order to be on the safe side of family planning.
Cryopreservation in the context of fertility treatments (ICSI & IVF)
During fertility treatments, doctors usually try to fertilize the retrieved eggs of the woman with “fresh” sperm, as the chances of success are statistically higher. In some cases however, this is not possible or useful, for example if the man has problems spontaneously providing a sample. Also, if the sperm count is very low, then the sperm is collected from several deliveries, frozen and prepared for the fertilization day.
Other reasons for choosing cryopreservation
There are many other conceivable reasons why men may choose to have their sperm frozen:
- before gender reassignment surgery
- before a vasectomy as a precaution
- before medical treatments that may affect the ability to ejaculate
How does sperm freezing work?
During cryopreservation, several sperm samples are usually delivered to a specialized center (a sperm bank or a fertility center). The Sperm is first examined and then stored in a depot with liquid nitrogen at ‑196°C according to strict safety criteria in order to exclude any risk of confusion later on.
How long can sperm survive frozen?
After sperm cryopreservation is complete, they can be stored almost indefinitely under optimal conditions. Even after several decades, there should not be any affect on sperm quality.
Sperm Freezing does not bring increased risks of genetic diseases
There is concern among some patients about whether sperm freezing carries an increased risk of genetic disorders. However, there is no scientific evidence for this.
Costs of cryopreservation: How expensive is sperm freezing?
Each provider calculates the costs slightly differently, so we can only give average prices at this point. If the costs are not reimbursed by the health insurance, then one-time costs of between 300€ and 500€ are incurred for consultation and preliminary examinations. The storage costs per year are usually in the double-digit to low triple-digit range.
Note on cost coverage
Since the 1st of July 2021, statutory health insurers covere the costs of sperm freezing prior to cancer treatments for men up to the age of 50. Including both the consultation costs and the costs for the collection, examination, processing and storage of the sperm cells.
We at Fertilly cooperate with leading European sperm banks and can offer you certain discounts.
How much money you need for a specific sperm bank and what you have to take into account we can explain to you in a simple and non-binding way. Our patient advisors at Fertilly will give you a comprehensive insight into this topic and will be happy to advise you. Talk to us!
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