In the past several decades the technology of cryopreservation, or maintaining life in a frozen state, has advanced considerably. With the use of modern techniques, cryopreservation of sperm to preserve an individual’s ability to reproduce has become successful, safe, and widely available. Sperm freezing is the best fertility preserving option for men. Sperm banking is of great help for couples with infertility issues. Fortunately, male factor infertility no longer means a couple must forgo the experience of pregnancy and childbirth. Thanks to modern reproductive technology and sperm banks, many of these couples have the option of becoming parents by using artificial insemination. The evolution of sperm Bank has enabled women to have greater control over their reproductive lives.
Sperm freezing/banking facility is also available for Male factor infertility/husband having problem of producing the sample on demand. In such cases Samples from husband are freezed prior to IUI or IVF & pooled later on to get required no. of motile sperms for IUI or IVF.
What is a sperm bank?
A sperm bank, semen bank or cryobank is a facility that collects and stores human sperm mainly for the purpose of achieving pregnancies through third party reproduction, notably by artificial insemination.
To whom is the sperm bank useful?
In certain cases the sperms of the husband is stored and frozen, which is later used for the infertility treatment of the wife. Following are the usual circumstances where it may be necessary:
Situational Erectile Dysfunction in Males
Long Distance Relationship
Variable Sperm Count in Males
Cancer in Males
Who needs to freeze semen?
Sperms are frozen to preservw male fertility for the future. Some common reasons why you may choose to store a semen sample include:
1) Prior to Artificial Insemination: One common cause of male infertility is a low concentration of sperm in the ejaculate. For some, the collection of one or more samples to be cryopreserved and later combined with a fresh sample and used for artificial insemination may be helpful in achieving a pregnancy.
2) Prior to the absence of the partner: For couples going through cycles of artificial insemination or in vitro fertilization (IVF), it can be frustrating when responsibilities or obligations require a spouse to be absent. If it is anticipated that the male partner will be unavailable during the optimal time for the procedure, it is possible to cryopreserve a semen sample prior to his departure as a backup in the event he is prevented from providing a sample at the time of the procedure. While this may not be optimal, it can often keep the time and finances invested in a procedure from being wasted due to unforeseen circumstances.
3) Vasectomy: The majority of men who choose a vasectomy as a form of birth control see it as a permanent decision. However, unexpected changes in a patient’s life such as a new marriage or death of a child or spouse can give rise to the desire to have more children. Vasectomies can be surgically reversed but success is widely variable and the surgery is expensive and invasive. Additionally, after an initially successful reversal, the ducts through which the sperm travel often develop scar tissue and become obstructed. As most individuals plan for a vasectomy well in advance, cryopreservation prior to having a vasectomy provides an effective form of insurance against a change in future plans.
4) Treatment for malignant disease: Hodgkin’s disease, leukemia, testicular cancer and other malignancies often occur in juveniles, young adults and others who haven’t started or completed their families. Fortunately, early detection and improved therapies have dramatically increased the survival rate for these diseases. Unfortunately, the chemotherapeutic agents and radiation therapy used to treat these diseases affect the production of sperm. Even though the time between diagnosis and initiation of treatment is short, there is often a window of several days in which a patient can cryopreserve his semen. Having your sperm frozen can preserve future fertility.
How is the semen cryopreserved?
Sperm are frozen and stored through a process called cryopreservation. Semen samples are prepared first with a solution that minimizes damage during the freezing and thawing processes. The samples are then placed in vials, sealed and slowly frozen in liquid nitrogen vapor. Frozen samples are stored in liquid nitrogen at a temperature of -196 degrees Celsius (-320 degrees Fahrenheit). Frozen semen seems to have no expiration date as long as the storage environment is well maintained and stable. Specimens may be stored until an individual decides to withdraw sperm for assisted reproductive treatments or the donor decides to end his storage contract. Sperm can be frozen indefinitely.
How is Cryopreserved Sperm used to achieve pregnancy?
Cryopreserved sperm are generally used in two different ways to achieve pregnancy. The first way is with artificial insemination. When artificial insemination is used the female partner, working with a fertility specialist, determines when she will be ovulating. At the appropriate time, an appointment is scheduled with the Andrology laboratory and one of the cryopreserved sample is prepared by carefully thawing and washing the semen sample. The washing procedure removes the cryoprotectants and seminal fluid, and concentrates the sperm into a volume appropriate for insemination. Depending on the quality of the sample, the doctor may have more than one vial prepared at each attempt. Once the sample is prepared, the patients will take it to their care provider to have the insemination performed. The physician performing the procedure uses a small catheter that is inserted into the uterus and deposits the sperm.
If there is known female factor infertility, or sperm are not available in sufficient quantity or quality, In vitro fertilization (IVF) can be another option. With this technique the female partner, working with a reproductive endocrinologist receives hormone injections that stimulate her ovaries to produce several follicles containing mature eggs. When the follicles have matured sufficiently, the eggs are retrieved and the cryopreserved sperm is prepared and used to fertilize the eggs. Advantages to this procedure include a much higher pregnancy rate and the ability to use semen samples with a very low concentration or poor motility.
How can I be sure my semen sample is not contaminated with another sample or mislabeled?
The specimen container used to collect the sample is labeled and verified by the patient prior to collection. Once the sample is received it is handled with extreme caution. All materials used in the process are labeled with the patient’s name, the current date and a visit number unique to the patient and the sample collected. Each sample is assigned a physically isolated workstation. All tools and solutions used in preparing the sample for cryopreservation are sterile and single use. This and the use of trained, certified Andrology technicians will ensure there is no confusion in the handling of semen samples.
Serving in Basrah, Iraq and surrounding areas, Al-Manar Fertility and Endoscopy Center provide a range of infertility services, including intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), invitro fertilisation (IVF) and sperm freezing facility. Al Manar provides the most up-to-date genetic and infectious disease-tested freezing and storage services of sperms for patients who desire to have their own semen specimens preserved for future use or for any assisted reproductive technology.