You may want to consider freezing your sperm if:
Firstly, you will need to be tested for any infectious diseases like HIV and Hepatitis. This has no bearing on whether you can freeze your sperm or not but is to ensure that affected sperm samples are stored separately to prevent contamination of other samples.
You’ll then need to give your written, informed consent to your sperm being stored and specify how long you want it to be stored for.
At the clinic, you’ll be asked to produce a fresh sample of sperm (if you’re able), which will be frozen and mixed with a special fluid (a cryoprotectant) to protect the sperm from damage during freezing. The samples are then cooled slowly and plunged into liquid nitrogen.
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.
It’s very safe – we’re not aware of any risks to patients or children from using frozen sperm. Not all sperm will survive the freezing and thawing process though.
Treatment with frozen sperm is just as successful as treatment using fresh sperm.
You’ll need to complete consent forms before you start treatment specifying how you want your sperm to be used. This includes information on:
You can vary or withdraw consent at any time, either before treatment or before the sperm are used in research or training. If this happens, your sperm will not be used.
The standard storage period for sperm is normally 10 years, although men in certain circumstances can store their sperm for up to 55 years. Your clinician will be able to explain whether you can do this.
You must let the clinic know if you change address. This is particularly important if you have decided to store your sperm for less than 10 years, as if the clinic can’t reach you, they may have to take your sperm out of storage and allow them to perish.
If you have the option to store for 55 years, you’ll need to confirm that you want to continue storing your sperm and your doctor will need to confirm that you’re eligible to do so. Again, it’s vital that you stay in touch with your clinic to prevent your sperm from being discarded if your storage runs out.
You’ll need to have fertility treatment which may include IVF, IUI or, if the sperm you are using is not of optimum quality, ICSI. Once your sperm have been thawed they’ll be used in exactly the same way as fresh sperm.
If none of your frozen sperm leads to a successful pregnancy, you might want to consider using donated sperm in treatment if sperm parameters are very poor.
You might also want to explore other options for having a family, such as adoption.
If you have frozen sperm you don’t want to use you have a number of different options.
Donate them to research: Research on eggs, sperm and embryos is invaluable in helping scientists to understand causes of infertility and develop new treatments.
Donate them to training: Trainee embryologists need sperm to practice different techniques, such as injecting a single sperm into the egg during ICSI.
Donate them to someone else: You may be eligible to donate your sperm to someone else who very much wants a family.
Discard them: Some people prefer to discard their sperm. Sperm that are no longer needed are simply removed from the freezer and allowed to perish naturally in warmer temperatures.