What is sperm freezing and storage?
Sperm can be frozen for future use either in artificial insemination or other fertility treatments, or be donated. Donated sperm has to be stored for six months before it can be used in treatment, in order to screen the donor for infections.
Sperm cells have been frozen, thawed and successfully used in treatment for more than 40 years, although not all sperm survive the freezing process.
What happens when sperm are frozen?
Before you agree to the freezing and storage of your sperm, you will be explained the process involved.
- You will be screened for infectious diseases, including HIV and hepatitis B and C.
- You will need to give written consent for your sperm to be stored.
At the clinic, you produce a fresh sample of sperm.
The sperm are frozen and then stored in a storage tank containing liquid nitrogen.
Is sperm freezing and storage for me?
Storing your sperm may enable you to use them for treatment in the future. You may want to consider freezing your sperm if:
- You have a condition, or are facing medical treatment for a condition, that may affect your fertility
- You are about to have a vasectomy
- You have a low sperm count or the quality of your sperm is deteriorating
- You have difficulty producing a sample on the day of fertility treatment
- You are at risk of injury or death (eg, you’re a member of the Armed Forces who is being deployed to a war zone)
What is my chance of having a baby with stored sperm?
Some sperm do not survive or are damaged during freezing. This means that after freezing there may be a reduction in quality. Some frozen sperm samples that are of poor quality can only be used for Intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).
Success rates are averaged over DI cycles and all IVF cycles using donor sperm. For each treatment cycle, the success rate varies depending on the age of the woman. If the woman is:
- Under 35, the success rate is around 19%
- 35–39, the success rate is around 15%
- 40–42, the success rate is around 7%