Semen banking: Protecting your fertility against time

Today’s men face adverse conditions in everyday life that may threaten their fertility. Psychological stress, environmental pollution, working conditions, sedentary habits, obesity, unbalanced nutrition, smoking and increased alcohol consumption, are some of the possible reasons that may provoke a gradual deterioration in semen quality. This effect increases with time and is further enhanced by age. This is very important, as today the majority of men in reproductive age postpone their plans to have a family later in life, compared to past generations.

The progress of biomedical sciences offers now the possibility to protect male fertility potential from these negative perspectives by ‘freezing’ time. A way to secure a man’s possibility to procreate at any time in life he feels ready, is by Sperm Freezing and Cryopreservation.

In which cases is preventive sperm freezing and cryopreservation applicable?

This procedure is applied mainly in cases of men of reproductive age who have not yet created or completed their families and specifically:

  • Prior to exposure to toxic environmental factors or before their submission to operations or other therapeutic procedures that may harm the fertility potential
  • In view of use in medically assisted reproductive methods (intrauterine insemination – in vitro fertilization), in case they cannot produce a sample at a specific time or they may be absent due to professional reasons
  • After a successful treatment resulting in an increase in semen quality, which may not be maintained
  • As a sperm preservation method when sperm are collected from a testicular biopsy or epididymal retrieval, provided there is surplus quantity
  • In order to create an adequate quantity of sperm from multiple collections, in cases of oligospermia
  • When there is systematic exposure to spermotoxic agents at the living or work environment, e.g. chemicals, radiation, high temperature
  • As an act of prudence, in order to ensure that their reproductive potential will be maintained and readily available if they decide to postpone their reproductive efforts for a later time.

Making an important decision

The decision to store one’s semen is very personal. If you are married or in a serious relationship, the written consent of your wife or partner is also needed.
If you are under 18 years old, both your parents must participate in this decision and give their written consent.

Semen collection and cryopreservation can be initiated as soon as possible. Even though sperm production in the testes is continuous, a specific duration is necessary in order for the quantity to be recovered after each ejaculation. It is recommended that each sample be collected after 48 hours post ejaculation. Usually, it is advised to collect several samples with an abstinence time of about 2 to 4 days.
Semen quality is basically evaluated according to the following parameters: sperm concentration (the number of spermatozoa per ml of seminal fluid), sperm motility (the ability of spermatozoa to move) and sperm morphology (the percentage of spermatozoa with normal forms).

Semen quality may present a temporary or permanent decline. A recent fever, the exposure to toxic substances or radiation close to the testes may worsen sperm parameters. Male age may also partially affect semen quality, as well as excessive alcohol consumption or/and excessive smoking.

Semen quality fluctuates and varies among ejaculations. If your semen quality is low, the scientific personnel of CRYOGONIA will discuss this with you before you make a decision about the long-term cryopreservation of your samples.

Please bear in mind that semen quality is generally deteriorated after freeze-thawing. The post thaw recovery varies among men and cannot be predicted based on pre freeze quality.

Considering the progress that has been achieved in the field of assisted reproductive methods, sperm cryopreservation is a reasonable choice, even if its concentration or motility is low.

With the application of modern in vitro fertilization techniques, it is possible to create an embryo by the injection of one live spermatozoon in an oocyte.

In case semen quality is better, it may be used for the application of simpler, less invasive methods to achieve a pregnancy, e.g. intrauterine insemination.

If semen quality is good enough to permit the application of intrauterine insemination, the success rates increases if more samples are cryopreserved. Preserving more semen samples allows more reproductive cycles.

In case the selected reproductive method is in vitro fertilization, even one sample may suffice. However, it is a safer choice to collect several ones.
For every intended pregnancy, it is recommended to collect 3-6 semen samples, depending on sperm quality.

If the time frame is limited, keeping even one sample is worth the effort.

According to contemporary scientific data, semen quality is not affected even after many years of cryopreservation at ultralow temperatures.

Semen freezing may allow even an adolescent or young adult to become a father many years later, when he decides to create his own family.

The procedure

Semen samples may be collected in a special, comfortable room located in the Sperm Bank. In case the patient is in the hospital, it is also possible that an authorized person can transfer the samples with specific appointment.

You are advised to arrange an appointment before your visit to the Sperm Bank. Specific instructions regarding the sample’s collection and transfer are provided by the personnel of CRYOGONIA during the phone communication.

Every semen sample is carefully identified using a special coding system and labeling, which ensures the precise traceability and confidentiality of the data. CRYOGONIA applies a multiplex control system of each step of the procedure, which permits the exact identification of the samples, before, during cryopreservation and at the time of release. Each sample is labeled with the patient’s name, a unique code and the date of freezing.

A small aliquot of every semen sample is examined with regard to the basic sperm parameters before freezing, i.e.:

  • Semen volume
  • Sperm concentration per ml
  • Motility percentages
  • Motility index

The rest of the sample is diluted with a special cryoprotectant medium, which protects the biological properties of the spermatozoa during the freezing process.

The sample is gradually put in special freezing containers (straws or paillettes) at several aliquots of low volume (0.5 ml). The total number of straws depends on the total volume of the semen sample.

The freezing process starts directly after the straw filling and is performed using a semi-automated system which permits the gradual temperature decrease from room temperature to ultra low levels (< 0 oC). This step protects the spermatozoa from the damage that an abrupt temperature fall would cause.

At the end of the freezing cycle, the samples are submerged in liquid nitrogen and then placed in special long term cryopreservation tanks.
Semen may be preserved at a final temperature of -196 oC indefinitely. CRYOGONIA Sperm Bank offers semen cryopreservation for long time periods, following the patient’s consent and its renewal at regular intervals.

During thawing, some of the frozen spermatozoa do not survive. The recovery of functional spermatozoa that survive the freeze-thawing cycle depends on the endogenous endurance of each semen sample and cannot be predicted with certainty.
When you are ready to use your cryopreserved semen for an assisted reproductive method, you must notify the Sperm Bank as soon as possible, preferably 1-2 weeks before the scheduled attempt.

The semen sample can be transferred to any doctor or fertility clinic you specify on a written special consent form.

Semen testing and freezing is charged with a total sum which is relative to the total number of collected samples – there is a discount in case more than one samples are collected.

The cryopreservation costs are determined on a monthly basis and cover all cryopreserved samples.

Thawing and transport costs are also charged to the patient.

During your first visit to the Sperm Bank, you will be asked about the following:

  • Name, address, phone number and date of birth
  • Medical diagnostic information
  • The purpose of proceeding to semen banking
  • Identity card number
  • Your doctor’s referral for semen cryopreservation
  • Starting date of the eminent treatment

If your sample meets the cryopreservation standards, you will be asked to complete a written consent form, stating your instructions concerning the handling of your semen sample.

The document includes detailed information regarding the legal issues that are relevant with the procedure, in order for you to be throroughly informed before giving your consent. In the document you are also asked to determine the initial time period for which you wish your semen to be cryopreserved, undertaking the responsibility to renew your consent shortly before this expires, declaring your wish to prolong or cease your sample’s preservation. We advise you to read the document carefully and fill in all the requested information.

Furthermore, if you have already been tested for sexually transmitted diseases within the previous three months, you will need to provide a copy of the following tests:

  • Hepatitis B: HBsAg, HBcAB
  • Hepatitis C: Anti-HCV
  • AIDS: Anti-HIV I / II
  • Syphilis: VDRL

If this is not the case, you will need to be retested and submit the results on the date of the sample freezing.

Patients wishing to freeze sperm during the COVID-19 pandemic, are also required to provide molecular test results for SARS-COV-2 (test performed within 1-2 days before the day of the appointment).

Appointments

All visits to our Sperm Bank are arranged by phone appointment, 24 to 48 hours after you contact us. We also offer the possibility of special appointments during weekends or holidays, with prior communication.

Our services

CRYOGONIA is a contemporary Sperm Cryopreservation Bank offering its services in the field of sperm freezing and cryopreservation. The scientific directors have 20 years of experience in Sperm Cryobanking intended for men of reproductive age, wishing to store their sperm for future autologous use in assisted reproduction.
All scientific personnel are specialized and well trained in the newest and most efficient methods of semen freezing, storing and thawing. Each laboratory procedure is performed under the supervision of a PhD specialist in Cryobiology.
CRYOGONIA is designed and organized according to European standards. The processes performed in CRYOGONIA comply with the strict standards of a comprehensive Quality Management System, based on the specifications of the international certification standard EN ISO 9001:2008 and the directives of internationally recognized organizations, such as WHO and ESHRE. We give absolute importance in the application of Quality Assurance in all the steps of the procedure:

  • Semen sample collection
  • Receipt
  • Labeling by secure and unique coding systems
  • Laboratory testing
  • Sperm freezing
  • Storage and cryopreservation
  • Sample identification
  • Sample thawing

Do you want to cryopreserve your semen?

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    For more information or in order to arrange an appointment, please contact us to the following phone numbers: (+30) 211 4100064 or (+30) 6932 717773.