Sperm cryopreservation (freezing) is a technique utilized to store sperm at very low temperatures for future use. Some medical conditions, certain types of surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy can cause damage to sperm.
In particular, cancer and its treatment can be very detrimental to sperm.
The intensity of the damage depends on the type of cancer and on the type and length of the management. When cancer is diagnosed at an early stage, it is possible to freeze the sperm before damage occurs. Sometimes, it is also possible to plan the freezing of sperm before specific surgical procedures which are likely to affect sperm quality.
A semen analysis is done prior to the freezing procedure to evaluate the initial sperm quality.
Once the suitability for cryopreservation is established, there is no preset limit to the number of years sperm can remain frozen before being utilized for reproduction. It is definitely possible to cryopreserve sperm for more than 10 years.
Under optimal conditions, sperm not yet damaged, can be frozen, thawed and utilized with a minimally invasive technique known as intrauterine insemination (IUI).
However, sperm, which have been frozen before cancer treatment, may already be partially damaged and may only be utilized, using advanced reproductive techniques such as ICSI.
For more information on The Fertility Clinic protocols, please take a look at our “Protocols and Procedures” in the “Patient Information” section.