What You Need to Know
You may be familiar with donor sperm and its use in fertility treatment. Did you know that more and more men are choosing to freeze their own sperm and store it for future use? Sperm freezing, also known as sperm banking, allows a man to preserve his fertility and, with it, the possibility of a biological child.
Why Freeze Your Sperm?
Men with very low sperm counts may be required to freeze sperm before IVF, so the fertility center is sure to have enough sperm available for IVF treatment. Some men may use sperm freezing and banking to assure they can have a healthy child when they are over 50, as paternal age over 50 is associated with increased rates of autism and birth defects. Military deployment is another reason, in case of injury that compromises fertility. In all these cases, the sperm will be used in fertility treatment in the future, usually IVF.
Men who are going to undergo cancer treatment are often advised to freeze their sperm. Cancer treatment often causes a decline in the quality and quantity of sperm, and may cause sterility. Testicular cancer and Non-Hodgkins Disease are common reasons. Men undergoing vasectomy may decide to freeze and store sperm in case future circumstances change and they want to have a child. Some people who were assigned male at birth and are planning to undergo gender reassignment surgery decide to freeze and bank sperm in case they choose to have a biological child after reassignment.
Men should involve their partners in the decision to freeze sperm. Children under 18 who have reached puberty can only do this with parental permission.
How Does It Work?
Before a man’s sperm is frozen, certain tests are required to determine the quality and quantity of his sperm. Semen analysis is done to determine if the semen is of good enough quality to warrant freezing, measuring sperm count (quantity), motility (ability to swim), and morphology, the sperm’s shape, which determines if the sperm are normal and able to penetrate an egg.
There are kits for collection at home which enable the sample to be shipped overnight to the company’s lab for analysis, freezing, and storage. Preservatives protect the sperm while it is in transit. The convenience of collecting the sample at home rather than making an appointment and going to a fertility center makes this option appealing to many men. The kits also include reports of the sperm analysis and in some cases, a consultation with a nurse.
Sperm banking may also be done with a physician’s consent at a fertility clinic with a sperm bank. The semen specimen for freezing is collected in a private collection room, and is analyzed and frozen within an hour. Blood work is required to screen for sexually transmitted diseases.
How Much Does It Cost?
The home kits can vary in price, but costs for sperm banking with a fertility center vary, but generally average around $1,000 for collection, analysis, and freezing, according to the Alliance for Fertility Preservation. Storage costs depend on the number of samples stored, but are usually $150 – $300 per year. Some sperm banks offer discounts for cancer patients.
At-Home Testing Through WIN for HIM
When it comes to fertility, it is important to test both partners before determining a course of treatment. Our WIN for HIM program is specifically tailored to men on their family-building journey. Members will have access to at-home semen analysis testing kits, including 1 year of sperm storage, for easy and comfortable sperm testing. Our Nurse Care Managers and Behavioral Health Care Managers will become personal advocates, to review sperm testing results and treatment options, if needed, with one of our in-network fertility specialists. Learn more today and take charge of your reproductive health.