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Sperm Banking for Personal Use
a blog by Michelle Ottey, PhD, Director of Operations, Fairfax Cryobank and Cryogenic Laboratories, Inc., October 22, 2010
Obviously sperm banks work to provide high-quality donor sperm for our clients, but many of us also work with patient clients as well. A “client depositor” is a patient who is banking his sperm for use in the future with a sexually intimate partner.
This process usually includes a consultation with a sensitive and knowledgeable member of the staff who explains the required paper work, details about the analysis and freezing techniques, and what the patient should expect throughout the process. The consultation is also an opportunity for the patient and his partner to ask questions.
The patient than produces the semen specimen, which is analyzed for sperm count, motility, progression viability, morphology, pH, viscosity and appearance. The general health of the specimen is measured and documented.
This semen analysis allows the staff to decide the most effective protocol for freezing the sample. A freezing medium containing a cryoprotectant is added to the sample, and the sample is placed in cryovials to be frozen. The patient will choose their storage plan, and the samples will be held safely for as long as necessary.
Once the samples are frozen, they can be stored indefinitely. One of our cryobanks has had a report of a successful pregnancy and birth from a sample that was frozen for 23 years. It is recommended that patients bank multiple samples to ensure their chances at future pregnancies.
Why Bank Sperm?
We have seen a range of patients over the years: military banking before deployment, men in high-risk careers banking as a backup, men who travel for work banking when their wife is doing IVF so that if the timing requires him to be on the road they have backup frozen samples, cancer patients banking prior to radiation and/or chemotherapy, transgender patients banking before hormone therapy, men undergoing vasectomy who want the insurance of banked sperm, and men undergoing back surgery that may compromise their fertility.
This is a service that some cryobanks provide for patients who want to preserve their fertility. There are also mail-in sperm banking kits available for patients who are not local to a cryobank that provides a sperm banking service.
It is important that men are aware of this option before undergoing any treatment that compromises fertility.