Semen cryopreservation before the initiation of chemotherapy or radiotherapy

Semen freezing and cryopreservation is a laboratory procedure during which semen is stored at ultra low temperature conditions, in order to be kept for long periods and be used at a later time in assisted reproduction.

In which cases is sperm freezing and cryopreservation applicable? This method is applied in cases of men who face cancer and have not yet created or completed their family. Anticancer treatment (surgical, chemotherapy or radiotherapy) may result in temporary or permanent sterility. However, it is not possible to predict with certainty the severity of the effect or its duration.

Furthermore, sperm freezing and cryopreservation is recommended to men who will be exposed to toxic environmental factors or submitted to surgical or other kind of medical treatments which may cause infertility.
If you are not sure about the possibility of a deteriorating effect of your therapy to your fertility status, you should first discuss this with your physician.

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.

The decision about sperm freezing and cryopreservation should be made as soon as possible after establishing the diagnosis, since it is recommended to collect the samples before starting the treatment. Semen collection during the first week of chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy is also considered fairly safe.

The semen samples should be collected after 48 hours of abstinence, but if the treatment cycle is scheduled at a short time, samples may also be collected following 24 hours’ abstinence.

Usually, it is advised to cryopreserve multiple samples, but if the time frame is limited, keeping even one sample is worth the effort.

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. Sperm cryopreservation is therefore a justifiable choice, even if semen quality is relatively low.

Generally, preserving more semen samples allows the performance of more reproductive cycles.

For every intended pregnancy, it is recommended to collect 3-6 semen samples, depending on sperm quality.

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

Semen freezing before anticancer therapy 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 transmissible diseases (HIV I/II, HCV, HbsAg, VDRL) within 3 to 6 months prior to your visit to the Sperm Bank, you must bring a copy of your test results. If you have not been tested, the procedure will proceed, but you must be tested and deliver the results to the Sperm Bank within 10 days from the first freezing date.

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.