This article has been externally reviewed by Sanjay Kumar, CEO of Cryobank America.
What is freezing sperm?
Freezing sperm, also called cryopreservation, is the process of freezing and storing sperm or human ejaculate. Sperm samples are collected, analyzed, frozen, and then stored at a sperm bank.
Sperm is typically collected either at home or at a fertility clinic. If you’re thinking about freezing your sperm, here’s what you’d need to know. You are usually asked to avoid any sexual activity for 48 hours before providing a sample. You can use an at-home kit to collect your sample, and ship it to a sperm bank facility where it will be frozen and stored. Or you can go to a fertility clinic, where your sperm sample is tested for quality, mobility, and quantity, before it’s frozen and stored at a sperm bank.
Why would you freeze your sperm?
There are many reasons someone might want to freeze their sperm. For example, if they’re going to be traveling during their partner’s prime fertility window, the couple can freeze their sperm to use while their partner is away, to use during ovulation. A National Institute of Health study found freezing sperm to be a viable option for military families, when one partner is away for an extended period of time.
Those who have a low sperm count may need to bank their sperm to use for fertility treatments like in vitro fertilization (IVF), Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI), or Intrauterine Insemination (IUI). If they have any trouble providing a sample, or there aren’t enough sperm found in the ejaculate, a doctor can surgically retrieve sperm from the testicles, to be frozen and used during a fertility treatment.
Freezing sperm or using frozen donor sperm gives single mothers by choice, lesbian and transgender couples a chance to conceive. A recent American Academy of Pediatrics study showed positive outcomes for young transgender adults who froze sperm to preserve their future fertility.
Those who have been diagnosed with cancer may also want to freeze their sperm before starting cancer treatments that could impact sperm quality.
Biologically male reproductive systems have a biological clock too. Sperm count and quality deteriorate with age. Which means, after the age of 50, the chance of male infertility increases, and the DNA integrity of sperm decreases – so birth defects and developmental problems become a concern. More and more men in their 30’s and 40’s are choosing to freeze their sperm, so they can improve the odds of conceiving a healthy baby later, when they’re ready to start or add to their family.
How Do You Freeze Sperm?
Sperm samples are put into special vials that are treated with a cryoprotectant agent, typically liquid nitrogen vapor, that preserves and protects the sperm cells. Then the vials of frozen sperm are stored in tanks at a sperm bank facility. That’s when the sperm is thawed, washed, and tested again, before it’s ready to be used for a fertility treatment such as in vitro fertilization, or intrauterine insemination.
Where can I freeze my sperm?
You can freeze and store a sperm sample at an independent sperm bank facility or by using a sperm bank that’s part of a fertility clinic.
Independent sperm banks screen, buy, freeze, store, and sell semen from donors. These facilities may also work with men who want to freeze and store their own sperm to use at a later time.
Some fertility clinics have their own labs, where patients can store their frozen sperm, embryos, or eggs for fertility treatments, or simply to preserve their future fertility options.
Can you freeze your own sperm at home?
You can collect your sperm sample at home, but unfortunately you can’t properly freeze the sperm in your home freezer. Your home freezer only gets to about zero degrees Fahrenheit. The specialized vials that store the sperm are cooled using liquid nitrogen until they get to about negative 280 degrees Fahrenheit. The tanks that store the vials run at around negative 320 degrees Fahrenheit. These extremely low temperatures allow the sperm to be preserved and basically frozen in time. They won’t age, degrade, or change, until they’re thawed. So, for viable sperm, you’ll need to send or deliver the sample to a sperm bank or to your fertility clinic for cryopreservation.
How much does it cost to freeze sperm?
The cost of freezing sperm depends on a specific sperm bank or fertility clinic’s collection and testing costs – as well as how many samples there are, and how long you’ll need to store them.
It typically costs between $1,000 - $2,000 for the process of collecting, testing and freezing the sperm. In addition, some facilities will charge an additional fee to wash the sperm in order to have it ready for an IUI procedure after thawing. (link to IUI article)
Storage fees range between $200-$1,000 a year, a price determined by the facility and the number of samples.
How long does frozen sperm last?
Not all sperm survive the thawing process. That’s why fertility doctors try to preserve a large enough sample to guarantee that there will be plenty of healthy sperm available to use after the thaw.
But the good news is that there’s no time limit for how long you can keep the sperm on ice. There are reported cases of sperm that was frozen for 20 years being used to create healthy babies.
How does frozen sperm work with Mosie?
It is possible to inseminate with Mosie and frozen sperm.
First, try to order "unwashed" ICI sperm for use at home if possible. This should give you 1 ml in the vial, instead of 0.5 ml which is used at the doctor’s office for IUI.
As the IUI sample is quite small to work with, some folks have used two IUI vials at one time with Mosie. However, we understand that is expensive and not an option for everyone.
Because Mosie was designed for comfort and for the vagina, it unfortunately does not fit perfectly into a frozen donor vial. So, after allowing the sample to liquify, you would immediately pour the sperm into our collection cup and then carefully absorb it into the Mosie syringe. You are introducing an extra step with the transfer from vial to cup, but don’t worry, it’s perfectly ok.
It might also help to see our standard instructions, included with every kit.
As always we are here to support and help as best we can, but please do check in with your doctor too! If you have any questions for us, or we can help support you on your journey to conceive in any way, please do reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our best to you!