Sperm cryopreservation, or sperm freezing, is a routine procedure performed in our laboratory to freeze and store sperm for future use by the patient. It is commonly used when the male partner will not be available for timed insemination, for men who experience difficulty in the process of semen collection, and in men whose reproductive health is threatened by medical treatments such as cancer therapy.
The process for sperm cryopreservation is identical to the process for semen analysis and requires that the male partner give a semen sample which is then processed by the Virginia Fertility & IVF Laboratory. Depending on the reason for sperm cryopreservation, it will sometimes be recommended that the man freeze more than one sample for use with future fertility treatment.
Once frozen, the sperm can be stored safely in our laboratory and then thawed for use later. In many cases, the sperm can be frozen in multiple vials allowing for multiple attempts to achieve pregnancy by using either timed intrauterine insemination (IUI) or in vitro fertilization (IVF). The number of motile sperm frozen will be used by your physician to determine whether IUI or IVF is the best treatment option for you and your partner.
Testicular or epididymal sperm can be recovered surgically by a Urologist from some but not all men with azoospermia (absence of sperm in the ejaculated semen). When sperm are recovered this way, they are usually suited to cryopreservation but will be few in number and will therefore require in vitro fertilization with ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection) to attempt to create a pregnancy. More information is available under Azoospermia.
When necessary, cryopreserved sperm can be safely shipped to and received from other accredited laboratories.