Sperm Freezing and Storage

Long-term storage of sperm is almost always possible before various types of medical treatment that can damage sperm production, for example, chemotherapy, irradiation therapy or surgery (including vasectomy). How the sperm are later used depends on the number and quality of the sperm before freezing and how well they survive freezing and thawing. It is often wise to store two or three samples if possible.

Beside storage of sperm for the above medical reasons, there may be social reasons, such as concern about ejaculatory performance at the time of treatment, or simply being out of town and apart from the woman at the time of ovulation. In the former instance, if a fresh sample cannot be produced on the day of treatment (such as for intrauterine insemination or IVF), the frozen sample can then be thawed and used as “back-up”. Because of the variability in sperm production, a satisfactory “back-up” might also be preferred if the sample on the day was likely to be inadequate. In the latter situation, the frozen sample is thawed when the woman is assessed as ovulating and then intrauterine insemination is undertaken at the appropriate time so that the chance of pregnancy is not lost.

Sperm freezing, surgical sperm retrieval (if sperm is not present in the ejaculate), and sperm storage is publicly funded for cancer patients in New Zealand. Publicly funded IVF, embryo freezing and storage for cancer patients may be available under a clinical override process.  GPs and oncologists can contact their closest Fertility Associates clinic for details.

Testicular Tissue Freezing and Storage

The freezing of testicular tissue is recommended when testicular tissue is obtained for diagnostic purposes especially when it is necessary to know in an azoospermic male (no sperm in an ejaculate) whether the testis is even capable of producing sperm. An example of this would be a man with a suspected blocked or undeveloped vas deferens, or maldesceneded or malformed testis, provided, of course, that mature sperm are seen. Such sperm can then be extracted, when the tissue is subsequently thawed, and is fertile if injected into the egg – testicular sperm requires maturation in the vas deferens and seminal vesicles to be naturally fertile. The acronym for the obtaining of testicular sperm by aspiration is called TESA, or by biopsy is called TESE. Click here for more information on MESA PESA TESA.

GPs and oncologists can contact their closest Fertility Associates clinic for details.

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