A Beginners’ Guide to Semen/Sperm Freezing

A Beginners' Guide to Semen/Sperm Freezing

Sperm freezing is also called sperm cryopreservation. It was introduced in the1960s. Back then it was recognized as an efficient male infertility management technique. Today it is performed for various reasons. Men who have undergone vasectomy can opt for freezing. This is because there is no sperm in the semen. It is also useful for anyone who is undergoing cancer treatment since it might lead to sterility at times. The clinical pregnancy rates with sperm cryopreservation are about 36.4% with IUI and 50% with IVF and ICSI.

Men can preserve their fertility and boost the chances of fathering a child. But before that, it is always a good idea to have a sound knowledge of the process. This can help you make an informed decision and avoid surprises down the line.

How Does Sperm Freezing Work?

The procedure aims to stabilize cells at cryogenic temperature. The sperm can then be store inside liquid nitrogen for as long as you wish to. A minimum of two samples from a single individual can be stored. The male masturbates and collects the sperms. This can be done at home or at the best fertility clinic in Chennai. The semen is then tested for sperm quantity, shape and movement. The cells can also be retrieved from the testicle through a surgical method in case the male is unable to ejaculate.

There are 2 ways to freeze: Slow and Rapid.

  • Slow Freezing: This is done over 2 to 4 hours. The sperm is mixed with a cryoprotectant that removes water from the cells. This can prevent damage during freezing. Now they are put in liquid nitrogen and frozen at -196 ºC or lower. They are later transferred to storage tanks to maintain the temperature.
  • Rapid Freezing: This is a direct contact between nitrogen vapours and straw for 8 to10 minutes. The sperms are then immersed in nitrogen at -196 ºC. The straws are placed at a horizontal position to reduce the heat difference between the two ends.

The Ideal Candidate for Sperm Freezing

Anyone can opt for sperm cryopreservation within in-vitro fertilization. But it is highly beneficial for specific situations and individuals. For example, military personnel have high exposure to chemicals and toxins. These can impact fertility to a great extent. You might wish to have babies in your 40s or 50s. The sperm potency might decrease with time. So, it is a safe idea to consider freezing them to preserve your fertility for later. Lastly, anyone who works in plastic production or agriculture or pesticides factories can store their sperms. This is a safe option because these services might have a negative influence on male fertility.

Thawing Process

This is equally important as freezing. The temperature used is 37 ºC. It is done to help the cell restore normal activities while preventing sudden heat changes. The sperms are removed from the cryopreservation medium through washing and centrifuging.

Osmotic shock, formation of extracellular ice crystals and dehydration are common risks. But these are completely minimized at the best fertility clinic in Chennai.

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