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Sperm Freezing

Sperm freezing is beneficial for fertility preservation and during IVF cycles

Our Indianapolis fertility doctors use sperm freezing during IVF cycles when sperm collection and the egg retrieval cannot occur simultaneously. Cryopreservation of sperm is also helpful for patients who need certain medical procedures, as radiation, chemotherapy and surgery can all affect sperm production. In addition, people with testes can choose to freeze sperm before beginning gender reassignment.

There are different options for sperm collection before freezing

The first step of sperm freezing is collecting the sperm. We require patients to abstain from ejaculation for two to five days before collection. Doing so helps ensure that they produce a high-quality sample. For collection, there are various methods and locations patients can use.

Clinic collection room. Many patients utilize a collection room at our clinic to provide their semen sample through masturbation.

At-home collection. Patients can choose to collect the sample at home through masturbation or sexual intercourse. In the case of collection via sexual intercourse, we provide the patient with specialized condoms they can use during sex to collect a sample. The patient needs to bring the sample to our clinic within an hour of collection.

Surgical retrieval. In some situations, patients require surgical retrieval of sperm. There are different procedures our Indianapolis fertility doctors can use to collect sperm when working with reproductive urologists.

Microsurgical epididymal sperm aspiration (MESA) consists of a doctor collecting sperm from the coiled tube that lies behind and above each testicle. In contrast, testicular epididymal sperm extraction (TESE) involves the removal of tissue from the testicle. An andrologist immediately evaluates the tissue for the presence of sperm, the concentrations, motility and morphology. The andrologist then performs the cryopreservation of sperm.

What happens during the process of sperm freezing?

Sperm freezing involves a flash freezing technology called vitrification. This process involves the andrologist placing the sperm in cryogenic vials and mixing it with a cryoprotectant to draw out water. This cryoprotectant protects the sperm from damage during freezing.

Next, the andrologist flash-freezes the sperm in storage tanks containing liquid nitrogen. These tanks maintain the appropriate temperature and ensure the biological processes of the cells pause. Sperm can remain in storage indefinitely.

When the patient is ready to use their sperm, the andrologist thaws it. After thawing, they can use the sperm to fertilize eggs from the patient’s partner or egg donor during an IVF cycle. The doctor then transfers a resulting embryo into the uterus of the patient’s partner or a gestational carrier. In some cases, the doctor can place the sperm directly into the partner’s uterus as part of an IUI cycle.

The Indianapolis fertility doctors at our clinic walk the patient through each step of the cryopreservation of sperm. Contact us for more information about cryopreservation of sperm.