Is Sperm Freezing Your Safety Net Against Infertility?

Sperm freezing is the process of storing a sperm medically to allow you a chance at pregnancy at a later time.

Updated
Let's talk sex
4 min read
If you’re a man worried about his fertility or simply looking for a safety net for parenthood at a later age, sperm freezing could be an option for you.
i
Snapshot

Infertility is on the rise in India with about 27.5 million couples, who are actively trying to get pregnant, suffering from it.

Factors like unhealthy lifestyles, diseases, injury, hormonal imbalance are some of the leading causes for male infertility. Additionally, the average age of parenthood is on the rise in India due to several reasons.

If you’re a man worried about his fertility or simply looking for a safety net for parenthood at a later age, sperm freezing could be an option for you.

Here’s what the process looks like.

Is Sperm Freezing Your Safety Net Against Infertility?

  1. 1. What is Sperm Freezing?

    Similar to egg freezing in women, sperm cryopreservation or freezing “is an effective but underused method to safe guard your sperm”, according to a Lancet study from October 2014.

    The process involves extracting sperms from the donor and storing it at supremely low temperatures (-196 F or -127 C).
    The process involves extracting sperms from the donor and storing it at supremely low temperatures (-196 F or -127 C).
    (Photo: iStockphoto)

    The process involves extracting sperms from the donor and storing it at supremely low temperatures (-196 F or -127 C). One of these sperms is then used for fertilisation at a later time. It is either injected directly into the egg and then pregnancy follows the usual course, or it is used in in vitro fertilisation (IVF) or intrauterine insemination (IUI).

    IVF is the process of combining egg and sperm outside the body. The embryo is later planted in the body of the woman for pregnancy. IUI is the process of directly placing the sperm in a woman’s uterus when she is ovulating.

    Too caught up to read? Listen to the story:

    The provided semen sample will be mixed with a special fluid to ensure the freezing does not cause any damage. Most facilities ensure that the sample is divided and stored in several batches so that it could be used for multiple tries.

    Manika Saxena, Senior Embryologist at Fortis Flt Lt Rajan Dhall Hospital in New Delhi, says the procedure is quite prevalent in India.

    This is mostly because the number of patients undergoing medical procedures (like radiation therapy) that hamper fertility is increasing. We do about 15-20 sperm freezing cases every month.
    Manika Saxena
    Expand
  2. 2. How Does It Work?

    In most cases, doctors advise abstinence from ejaculation for three-five days before the process. The abstinence is important for the quality of the sperm.

    Once the sample has been obtained, the semen is tested for its ability to perform. Motility, count, volume, liquefaction and viscosity are some of the criteria it’s measured against.

    Once the sample has been obtained, the semen is tested for its ability to perform.
    Once the sample has been obtained, the semen is tested for its ability to perform.
    (Photo: iStockphoto)

    The process also involves testing the man for HIV, Syphilis, Gonorrhea and other STDs and STIs. Other diseases also include HTLV and Hepatitis. The sperm is stored for six months while the man is screened for infections.

    The diseases and infections, if any, are not directly linked to whether or not you can get the sperm stored. It is more to find out whether the sample needs to be stored separately to avoid contamination of other samples.

    Expand
  3. 3. Circumstances Under Which Sperm Freezing Could be an Option

    People often opt for sperm freezing if they are suffering from a health condition which might affect their fertility. It’s best to consult your doctor about fertility and your medical history.

    People often opt for sperm freezing if they are suffering a health condition which might affect their fertility.
    People often opt for sperm freezing if they are suffering a health condition which might affect their fertility.
    (Photo: iStockphoto)

    If you’re undergoing vasectomy, but wish to keep options open for the future, you could look into sperm freezing.

    If you don’t wish to have a child right away, this is one option to increase the possibility of parenthood at a later age. Remember, it’s a myth that sperm doesn’t age.

    Expand
  4. 4. Safety, Price and Efficacy of the Process

    If carried out by trained professionals, sperm freezing is a safe process. Additionally, the process is just as safe for the female partner who will provide the egg for fertilisation. A frozen sperm is same as a fresh sperm when it comes to pregnancy.

    The success rate of this kind of pregnancy is about 30 percent which is termed “satisfactory”.
    The success rate of this kind of pregnancy is about 30 percent which is termed “satisfactory”.
    (Photo: iStockphoto)

    The success rate of this kind of pregnancy is about 30 percent which is termed “satisfactory” by a Times of India report. The same report suggests that the cost of the procedure is a wee amount of Rs 1500.

    Saxena adds that the procedure is as likely to cause pregnancy as any case of IVF, IUI or intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). Though she didn’t put the process under  a price bracket, she suggested an annual sum of about Rs 5000.

    A healthy sperm can be stored for a decade on an average. The period might increase or decrease depending on your individual case.

    (We at FIT are running a campaign to increase awareness about fertility. Get your queries on fertility answered by top specialists. Write to us at Fit@thequint.com or click here.)

    (Subscribe to FIT on Telegram)

    Expand

What is Sperm Freezing?

Similar to egg freezing in women, sperm cryopreservation or freezing “is an effective but underused method to safe guard your sperm”, according to a Lancet study from October 2014.

The process involves extracting sperms from the donor and storing it at supremely low temperatures (-196 F or -127 C).
The process involves extracting sperms from the donor and storing it at supremely low temperatures (-196 F or -127 C).
(Photo: iStockphoto)

The process involves extracting sperms from the donor and storing it at supremely low temperatures (-196 F or -127 C). One of these sperms is then used for fertilisation at a later time. It is either injected directly into the egg and then pregnancy follows the usual course, or it is used in in vitro fertilisation (IVF) or intrauterine insemination (IUI).

IVF is the process of combining egg and sperm outside the body. The embryo is later planted in the body of the woman for pregnancy. IUI is the process of directly placing the sperm in a woman’s uterus when she is ovulating.

Too caught up to read? Listen to the story:

The provided semen sample will be mixed with a special fluid to ensure the freezing does not cause any damage. Most facilities ensure that the sample is divided and stored in several batches so that it could be used for multiple tries.

Manika Saxena, Senior Embryologist at Fortis Flt Lt Rajan Dhall Hospital in New Delhi, says the procedure is quite prevalent in India.

This is mostly because the number of patients undergoing medical procedures (like radiation therapy) that hamper fertility is increasing. We do about 15-20 sperm freezing cases every month.
Manika Saxena

How Does It Work?

In most cases, doctors advise abstinence from ejaculation for three-five days before the process. The abstinence is important for the quality of the sperm.

Once the sample has been obtained, the semen is tested for its ability to perform. Motility, count, volume, liquefaction and viscosity are some of the criteria it’s measured against.

Once the sample has been obtained, the semen is tested for its ability to perform.
Once the sample has been obtained, the semen is tested for its ability to perform.
(Photo: iStockphoto)

The process also involves testing the man for HIV, Syphilis, Gonorrhea and other STDs and STIs. Other diseases also include HTLV and Hepatitis. The sperm is stored for six months while the man is screened for infections.

The diseases and infections, if any, are not directly linked to whether or not you can get the sperm stored. It is more to find out whether the sample needs to be stored separately to avoid contamination of other samples.

Circumstances Under Which Sperm Freezing Could be an Option

People often opt for sperm freezing if they are suffering from a health condition which might affect their fertility. It’s best to consult your doctor about fertility and your medical history.

People often opt for sperm freezing if they are suffering a health condition which might affect their fertility.
People often opt for sperm freezing if they are suffering a health condition which might affect their fertility.
(Photo: iStockphoto)

If you’re undergoing vasectomy, but wish to keep options open for the future, you could look into sperm freezing.

If you don’t wish to have a child right away, this is one option to increase the possibility of parenthood at a later age. Remember, it’s a myth that sperm doesn’t age.

Safety, Price and Efficacy of the Process

If carried out by trained professionals, sperm freezing is a safe process. Additionally, the process is just as safe for the female partner who will provide the egg for fertilisation. A frozen sperm is same as a fresh sperm when it comes to pregnancy.

The success rate of this kind of pregnancy is about 30 percent which is termed “satisfactory”.
The success rate of this kind of pregnancy is about 30 percent which is termed “satisfactory”.
(Photo: iStockphoto)

The success rate of this kind of pregnancy is about 30 percent which is termed “satisfactory” by a Times of India report. The same report suggests that the cost of the procedure is a wee amount of Rs 1500.

Saxena adds that the procedure is as likely to cause pregnancy as any case of IVF, IUI or intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). Though she didn’t put the process under  a price bracket, she suggested an annual sum of about Rs 5000.

A healthy sperm can be stored for a decade on an average. The period might increase or decrease depending on your individual case.

(We at FIT are running a campaign to increase awareness about fertility. Get your queries on fertility answered by top specialists. Write to us at Fit@thequint.com or click here.)

(Subscribe to FIT on Telegram)

Published: 
Stay Up On Your Health

Subscribe To Our Daily Newsletter Now.

Join over 120,000 subscribers!