It's Still Freezing Season – Sperm, That Is
It’s time to cool things down, even as winter continues to stomp around us. We have all heard strange rumors of Walt Disney being put into a cryogenic sleep or seeing Matt Groening’s depiction of Richard Nixon’s head in a jar in the year 3000.
While technology hasn’t quite caught up to these absurdities, we do have the ability to cryopreserve or freeze your little swimmers into ice cubes for you! Some may ask what is this? Some may ask why? Some may wonder why I enjoy talking sperm? Well, all of your questions will be answered in this latest blog!
What is Cryopreservation or Sperm Freezing?
Cryopreservation is the process by which cells, tissues, eggs, embryos and sperm can be maintained through cooling to extremely low temperatures, effectively freezing them for long periods of time. Just try to picture Han Solo frozen in carbonite. Unfortunately for sperm, not all of them survive the process and, depending on the freeze, the Total Motile Sperm (TMS) can decrease compared to the fresh sample so often you need to freeze more than you think you will need. These vials of frozen sperm are not like Italian Ice though; we are unable to shave slices off for you. When we thaw a vial, we need to thaw the entire vial.
Why Cryopreservation to Freeze Sperm?
There are a considerable number of reasons to freeze sperm. Better safe than sorry, right?
- Frozen IUI/IVF Cycle Backup
Whether you are away on business or pleasure, or there just aren’t many swimmers in the pool, it’s always good to have a backup plan. Even if we see one moving sperm, we can freeze it for you! And although, like in cooking, fresh is always better than frozen for IUI or IVF, at least when it comes to sperm, there are times when freezing is the perfect choice.
- Fertility Preservation
With new medical techniques, more patients have opportunities to build families, even after serious diseases. Undergoing therapeutic radiation or chemotherapy, however, can significantly reduce viable eggs and sperm, thus we recommend preserving as many as possible before undergoing treatment. When facing that type of treatment, contact a fertility program BEFORE undergoing any procedures or treatments that could reduce your chances of building your family later on.
Perhaps you are undergoing voluntary procedures like a snip-snip vasectomy to get rid of those pesky condom costs. Freezing beforehand will provide insurance for you, your wife, your partner, or your unforeseeable future that there are swimmers at the bank should there ever be a change of heart about the size of your family.
- The Zika Virus
While fresh samples are usually preferable to frozen, the single exception is in the case of possible Zika infection. The odds will forever be in your favor, for not risking Zika, when you stack the deck or the sperm. If you are planning on a romantic island vacation, honeymoon, or perhaps just a luxurious tropical business trip, steer clear from Zika infected areas when possible! We all know the number one activity on the honeymoon isn’t riding a jet ski… So rather than risk transmission, ask your boss to send you elsewhere or ask your significant other to rent a room on a snowy mountain with a roaring fire. Honestly, you aren’t going to leave the hotel much wherever you go… Sometimes struggling with infertility may put a new definition on intercourse. Remember sex is not ONLY for procreation. It couldn’t hurt (or maybe just a bit) to rekindle the original spark. I assure you it's better than rubbing dry sticks for warmth…
For the most up to date information on the Zika Virus please check the CDC website or ask us!
About Luke Jenusaitis
Luke works in the Andrology and Endocrinology lab at Reproductive Medicine Associates of Connecticut (RMACT). He received his undergraduate degree in Biology and Near Eastern Studies from Johns Hopkins University. Originally from Branford, CT, Luke aspires to attend medical school and continue working in patient care. His experience includes working in the Autopsy Program of Pathology at Yale University. A recent contributor to PathtoFertility, he hopes to alleviate some of the tensions that arise from a misinterpreted social taboo.