Why freeze sperm?
Sperm freezing offers the opportunity to preserve your fertility for the future, and there can be many reasons why you might decide to freeze and store your sperm such as:
- If you have previously had a poor semen analysis and wish to ensure against the possibility of further decline;
- If you have upcoming cancer treatment or surgery to the testicles or prostate*;
- If you are undergoing gender reassignment involving hormone treatment or surgery;
- If you are in a high-risk job where you are exposed to environmental toxins; or
- If you are about to undergo a vasectomy and want to keep your options open.
Some people may also need to freeze sperm for IVF treatment because they may not be available on the day (e.g. FIFO workers).
How is sperm stored?
Sperm can be stored from ejaculated samples or from surgically retrieved samples. Specialised sealed straws are used to freeze the sample in 0.25mL or 0.5 mL volumes. This means that we are usually able to freeze multiple straws from a single sample. After freezing, an embryologist will perform a test thaw with one of the straws to ensure there are an acceptable number of moving sperm post-thaw.
Your sperm straws are securely stored in specialised tanks under liquid nitrogen, which ensures they remain at a consistently cold temperature. Our storage tanks undergo 24-hour electronic temperature monitoring and are located in a secure and alarmed area only accessible by our Embryology team.
How long can my sperm be stored?
Sperm can generally be kept in storage for up to 15 years (this time can be extended in special circumstances), provided that you continue to pay the annual storage fee. During this time, we send out an annual storage letter to ensure we continue to honour your wishes and inform you when the storage time limit is approaching.
How do I discard my sperm if I no longer need it?
If you no longer wish to keep your sperm in storage, a discard form will need to be signed by you.
Can I donate my left over sperm?
Donation of sperm can be considered in some cases, however this requires further medical testing and multiple counselling sessions in order to explore and carefully consider the decision to donate.