The cryopreservation or freezing of sperm has been a topic of much discussion in recent weeks due to the birth of a baby made famous by the technique of fertilization post mortem. We spoke to doctor Javier Ruiz, andrologist and specialist in assisted reproduction at Ovoclinic Madrid, to find out about the advantages of sperm freezing as a method of fertility preservation.
WHAT IS SPERM FREEZING AND WHAT ADVANTAGES DOES IT HAVE?
Sperm freezing is a very simple process that consists of adding cryoprotective agents to the semen sample to avoid damage to the interior of the sperm cells, which are then frozen in liquid nitrogen at -196°C. Sperm freezing allows male fertility to be preserved, avoiding future damage to the sperm or alterations that happen naturally with age.
HOW LONG CAN A SPERM SAMPLE BE FROZEN FOR?
Once frozen, a sperm sample can be stored indefinitely. Furthermore, the quality of stored sample does not diminish. It is during the freezing and thawing processes that sperm can suffer damage. However, at Ovoclinic, we have with a specialist cell cryopreservation team who carry out all these types of procedure. We also recommend that once the individual has concluded their expected reproductive life that they have the sample removed from storage.
WHEN IS THE CRYOPRESERVATION OF A SPERM CYCLE RECOMMENDED? THESE DAYS, IS IT AS EFFECTIVE A METHOD OF FERTILITY PRESERVATION AS IS THE VITRIFICATION OF OVULOS?
Sperm freezing is a technique that can be used for fertility preservation, as such, it is recommended when a man wants to delay having children for the future.
It some cases, when it can be assumed beforehand that sperm quality will be lost, is it advisable and almost mandatory, to preserve sperm. With this in mind, the most obvious reasons the preserve sperm are:
- Before starting a chemotherapy or radiotherapy treatment for cancer, or other diseases.
- In men who are to undergo gender reassignment surgery, as by freezing sperm they will be able to have a baby in the future with their own genetic load.
- In men who suffer a psychological block that prevents them from ejaculating.
- For men who are unable to attend at the clinic on the day of the reproductive treatment (FIV-ICSI).
- Men with azoospermia whose sperm will be obtained via a testicular biopsy.
- In men who need to have sperm washing performed due to being seropositive in a viral sexually transmitted disease.
HOW DOES SPERM PRODUCTION WORK IN A HEALTHY MAN OF 35 YEARS OLD?
At 35, a man who does not suffer a genital pathology or have a systemic or endocrine illness, should have a normal sperm production.
“Sperm freezing permits fertility preservation, avoiding future damage to the sperm or alterations that happen naturally with age.
FOR WOMEN, OOCYTE QUALITY RECUDES DRAMATICALLY AFTER THE AGE OF 35. IS THIS THE SAME FOR MEN? UNTIL WHAT AGE CAN A MAN PRODUCE GOOD QUALITY SPERM?
Spermatogenesis, formation of sperm, should carry on over many years. It is true that little by little, with the passage of time, production does slow a little, but this depends from man to man. What you can see affected by age is sperm quality, especially in terms of the motility and maturity of the sperm cells and chromosome abnormalities. It is important to know if the man’s fertility also suffers alterations with age and if they should consult an andrologist or urologist before 35 years old, even if they are not thinking about starting a family yet. Freezing a sperm sample could be a good option.
WHAT IS THE IDEAL AGE TO BECOME A FATHER? IF A MAN NEEDS TO USE THE TECHNIQUE OF FREEZING SPERM – WHEN WOULD IT BE MOST EFFECTIVE?
A human male reaches his peak of fertility between 16 and 20 years old. After this age, the fertilization capacity of sperm starts to decline. The ideal age to become a father does not coincide with the age in which, in our society, and the pace of life that we live, we can think about becoming fathers. The majority of men who attend our clinics are 40 or more. The ideal situation is to freeze a sperm sample before 35 years old.