Cryopreservation (rapid freezing) is the method of preserving sperm for future use. There are many reasons an individual would choose to prepare for possible sterility, including
1. Pending cancer treatments
2. Elective vasectomy
3. Infertility (use frozen donor semen)
4. Initiating hormone therapy
5. Having a high risk job.
For some men, sperm banking is almost a necessity. Men diagnosed with cancer during their early 20’s face a course of chemotherapy likely to provide a cure but also likely to adversely affect sperm production. Their only hope of fathering children is with preservation and storage of sperm obtained prior to chemotherapy. For years, sperm banks have been providing this service.
On occasion, a vasectomy candidate will ask about storing his sperm prior to undergoing vasectomy. The question is whether sperm freezing and storage (cryopreservation) might be considered a reasonable alternative to vasectomy reversal in the unlikely event that the individual wishes to father children in the future.
For another group of men, infertility has necessitated use of donor semen. While these men may be infertile for a variety of reasons, use of donor sperm allows their wives to experience pregnancy and childbirth, obviously not part of the adoption process. Nearly all donor sperm used nowadays is obtained from frozen semen. Fresh semen is almost never used because infected donors may not test positive for hepatitis and AIDS until weeks after donation. Cryopreservation of semen provides the safety net needed to confirm that sperm donors are healthy and have negative tests weeks or months after donating.
Frozen semen can be stored for an indefinite amount of time. It can be used effectively in different types of fertility treatments, including in vitro fertilization (IVF), intrauterine insemination (IUI), or gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT).