As a diverse range of factors influences fertility, it is critical to look for fertility preservation options. In addition to being mindful of exercise, alcohol consumption, smoking, or drugs and steroids, the ideal way is to freeze sperm when they are in their healthiest form. In case you experience a medical condition, are going through hormone therapy, or elect for a vasectomy, your child-bearing options stay intact with the preservation of sperm. In combination with our 10 Steps To Improve Sperm Quality guide, isn’t freezing your sperm like an insurance policy for your fertility?
The rising trends of male infertility have forced many to look into proactive ways to preserve their fertility. Sperm freezing is an extension of these efforts. This article is a brief guide about the indications, methods, and benefits of this technology.
Cryopreserving sperm or sperm freezing is the storage of sperm at cold temperatures for future use. This process is achieved by using special media like liquid nitrogen and protective chemicals. Sperm are immersed in these solvents and kept in special freezers.
The sperm cells remain viable and healthy for many years. The research suggests that frozen sperm can cause fertilization after 40 years of preservation.
Once you are ready to use them, sperm cells are thawed and allowed to fertilize the ovum.
It may seem like sperm freezing is a relatively newer technology, but the history dates back to the 18th century. In 1776, an Italian physician and priest, Lazaro Spallanzani, reported that sperm cells could survive in ice.
However, the substantial hypothesis about sperm freezing came in 1866. A scientist, Montegazza, suggested that a soldier dying on the battlefield could still beget an heir through frozen sperm at home. These were the times when men were scarce due to war, and legal heirs had significant importance. So, the idea was revolutionary but at that time they did not have enough technological expertise to make it happen.
In the 20th century, veterinary sperm freezing and births were common. Human sperm freezing was being tested, but it was not a norm. After the 1970s, with the advent of IVF and other assisted reproductive methods, sperm freezing started bagging a higher appreciation.
With time, acceptance has ensued, and now sperm freezing has become a convenient technique to preserve male fertility. Many struggling couples benefit from sperm freezing with or without the assisted reproductive technologies.
Sperm freezing is a sophisticated process that needs appropriate temperature and chemicals. The preservative chemicals like liquid nitrogen and other cryoprotectants enable sperm to freeze without damaging the cells.
Many sperm freezing services are accessible to the public these days. But it is crucial to find a service that sets the highest standards of care. The freezing and thawing process may take a toll on sperm cells and damage their structure or DNA. A step-wise approach reduces the possibility of error. The sperm freezing process has the following phases:
Sperm freezing requires a set of protocols. These measures are in place to guarantee successful procedures and high pregnancy outcomes.
Sperm analysis testing is sufficient to proceed with the freezing. A sperm analysis provides information about the fertilization potential and health of sperm. This is why a semen analysis is requested prior to moving forward to preservation.
Ro offers home testing kits for sperm analysis testing. These are great because in-home testing gives you peace of mind and comfort, and does not require additional clinic visits.
Once you have your sperm analysis report, you can take it from there. If your sperm parameters are in normal ranges, you can immediately go for sperm freezing. However, if you have low sperm count or motility, it may be a good idea to follow a sperm improvement guide to enhance your sperm health before preservation. This may help to ensure that you only save robust sperm cells that can tolerate the brunt of freezing and thawing.
The next step after sperm analysis testing is depositing the sample for freezing. Ro, allows you to both test and store with the same deposit.
When you deposit your sample, it is mixed with chemicals (expanders) and frozen in special refrigerators.
Sperm freezing needs special programmable freezers. These freezers are capable of maintaining a fixed temperature consistently in the chamber. The temperature setting is vital in ensuring the viability of sperm.
Another essential product required for productive sperm freezing is a cryoprotectant or expander. Besides being the temperature-lowering agents, these chemicals protect sperm viability and make the thawing process smooth. The standard expanders are zinc and glycerol mixed with egg yolk. You need to be familiar with the benefits of these chemicals to understand the process. Knowing these facts also gives you peace of mind that your sperm are safe.
Obviously, the choice is yours. You can opt for sperm freezing to stop worrying about declining sperm quality due to lifestyle and other factors. But there are some scenarios when you must consider doing it.
The biological clock is not a myth. Although men have a longer fertility window, the sexual health and quality of sperm starts declining with age. It becomes imperative to either have children at a young age or save sperm cells in their healthier form for later use.
With a cultural and economic shift worldwide, the average age for having children is increasing. People want to make careers before having the responsibility of kids. This trend has also contributed to the rise in infertility.
Sperm freezing has arrived to save the day and help people bear children in their desired timeframe. You can save your sperm at a young age to liberate yourself from potential fertility problems in later years.
Testicular or scrotal surgeries carry a risk of interference with spermatogenesis. Trauma or disorders like a varicocele (swelling of the scrotum and lack of blood circulation) need surgical interventions. Some individuals have undescended or malpositioned testis that need to be fixed with surgery. These interventions may damage testes or scrotum and result in infertility.
This does not mean everyone who undergoes these procedures experiences infertility. It is a potential risk, and a proactive approach dictates preserving fertility. So, it is better to freeze sperm before any medical procedure that may lead to fertility problems.
Cancer treatments like chemotherapy and radiotherapy reduce male fertility. The fertility testing in patients undergoing treatment for malignancy shows structural abnormalities of sperm cells (azoospermia). The toxicity levels have diminished with the advent of better medicinal technologies. But most males still struggle to regain the fertility levels.
So, it is better to preserve fertility before starting treatment for malignancies. Structural changes of sperm take time to appear. Usually, it happens with continuous toxic chemotherapeutic drugs to stop tumour growth. So, you can also save sperm cells during chemotherapy before the azoospermia sets in.
Many spinal cord injuries lead to loss of sensation and nerve supply to the penis. It is why they often become a source of infertility. Sperm freezing helps such individuals to preserve fertility and have healthy children.
Diabetes affects your nerves and reduces sensations in your body. People with diabetes type 2 suffer from erectile dysfunction because the nerves supplying the penis weaken over time. It interferes with sexual well-being, causes erection problems and leads to men experiencing infertility.
In recent years, diabetes has become common at a young age due to widespread obesity. Besides, diabetes has a variant that appears specifically in earlier years of life. It is linked with genetics and impossible to avoid with a healthier lifestyle. A family history may help you recognize your risk of having it.
Diabetes type 1 is the type of diabetes that occurs before 30 years and is familial in nature. Some people get it in their teen years whilst others have a childhood onset. For such individuals, sperm freezing proves tremendously beneficial.
No. The sperm freezing procedure is straightforward and demands a sample collection only. You do not take any medication or undergo invasive procedures.
You can even take semen samples at home. There are no risk factors, and people with pre-existing medical conditions can also opt for sperm freezing safely.
The first step is to gain the appropriate information. Now that you have it, you can weigh the pros and cons to decide (there are no cons, though!). Take a sperm analysis test now and assess if you can freeze your sperm immediately or need to improve their quality before preserving them. It’s all in your hands, seize your fertility and mold it to your timeline!