On occasion, a vasectomy candidate will ask about storing his sperm prior to undergoing vasectomy. The question is whether sperm freezing and storage (cryopreservation) might be considered a reasonable alternative to vasectomy reversal in the unlikely event that the individual wishes to father children in the future.
For some men, sperm banking is almost a necessity. Men diagnosed with cancer during their early 20's face a course of chemotherapy likely to provide a cure but also likely to adversely affect sperm production. Their only hope of fathering children is with preservation and storage of sperm obtained prior to chemotherapy. For years, sperm banks have been providing this service.
For another group of men, infertility has necessitated use of donor semen. While these men may be infertile for a variety of reasons, use of donor sperm allows their wives to experience pregnancy and childbirth, obviously not part of the adoption process. Nearly all donor sperm used nowadays is obtained from frozen semen. Fresh semen is almost never used because infected donors may not test positive for hepatitis and AIDS until weeks after donation. Cryopreservation (rapid freezing) of semen provides the safety net needed to confirm that sperm donors are healthy and have negative tests weeks or months after donating.
So sperm banks have extensive experience with the cryopreservation of sperm for victims of cancer and other causes of male-factor infertility. They are capable of expanding these services to men considering elective sterilization.
Sperm Storage through ReproTech, Ltd.ReproTech, Ltd. (RTL) supports a network of top fertility centers specializing in the treatment of infertility. Following cryopreservation at one of the centers, specimens are shipped to ReproTech for long-term cryostorage at one of its four (4) facilities. To locate the nearest member of the Fertility Preservation Network, go to www.reprotech.com or call 888-953-9669. If you are unable to travel to one of the members of the Fertility Preservation Network, ReproTech also offers a sperm banking by mail kit, OverNite MaleTM Kit for $575, which may be used to send your specimen by FedEx to their processing lab. ReproTech provides financial assistance to qualifying patients through its Verna's Purse www.vernaspurse.org. Fees as of December 2016 are below and periodically updated here.
|The fees for RTL's semen storage are:||(as of December 2016)|
Sperm Storage through Xytex Corporation
One company that has long been in the business of Long Term Storage (LTS) of sperm is Xytex Corporation (www.xytex.com), headquartered in Augusta, Georgia, with additional offices in Atlanta and Raleigh. Xytex can mail a patient a Cryokit® for sperm storage by mail, so the candidate can carry out the whole process in the privacy of his own home.
|Fees for semen storage with Xytex are:||(as of 3/9/2011)|
|Blood tests, samples (1-3), administrative fee, one (1) year of storage, dewar shipping|
and liquid nitrogen and supplies, processing and report of samples
Here's how it works:
- Call Xytex at 1-800-353-5748 and request a cryokit. If you have any technical questions, Kate Howell will be happy to address them.
- After receiving a cryokit by mail and over a period of one week, collect 3 semen samples. For each collection, you are provided a storage tube for 95% of the semen and a drop tube for 5% of the semen.
- After collection of the third specimen, mail the cryokit back to Xytex.
- The drop tube specimen will be tested by Xytex to determine whether the remainder of the semen is worth storing, i.e., likely to cause a pregnancy when used. Xytex will contact you by phone with the semen test results.
- If favorable, you will have to decide whether to continue storage and for how many years. If unfavorable, you can still store, but with less expectation of success if and when the semen is used.
Sperm Storage through CryoChoice
CryoChoice is another excellent option. The company, based in Atlanta, offers a cost-effective home kit for privately banking sperm. As of July 2013, 6 monthly payments of $99 each could satisfy the total first year's cost of $599. which includes one complete collection kit, at-home pick-up and delivery of your sample, lab processing and testing, and the first year's storage. All clients who store with CryoChoice commit to a minimum of three years' storage at $139 per year for years 2 & 3, then that same rate per year until the client decides to cancel. To learn more, visit www.cryochoice.com or call 800-619-7869.
Use of frozen semen
While you may be able to preserve your semen without incurring any professional fees (except those paid to the sperm storage facility), you will need the services of a gynecologist to use it.
If the semen is of good quality (high sperm count and activity), it can be injected directly into your partner's cervix at the time of ovulation, a process known as artificial insemination (AI) or intra-uterine insemination (IUI). You can check with local GYN offices to learn the "going price" for AI. I suspect that it will be less than $1000, even with ovulation tests. Chances of stored semen causing a pregnancy in the first month (female cycle) of use are about 18.5% for women <35 years old, just slightly less than the monthly chance of pregnancy in a healthy couple (20%) of similar age. (Click blue links for references.)
If the semen is of sub-optimal quality (low sperm count or activity), an infertility specialist may recommend in-vitro fertilization (IVF). This would require harvesting your partner's eggs surgically, fertilizing them directly with your thawed sperm, then re-implanting the fertilized egg(s) into your partner's uterus. This process can cost thousands of dollars, depending on the number of attempts made.
While vasectomy reversal success rates are good, reversals don't always result in sperm return to the semen. Cryopreservation (preservation by freezing) of semen prior to vasectomy can alleviate concerns about the permanency of vasectomy and the possibility of reversal failure. Three semen samples can be shipped, evaluated, and stored for two years for less than $1000. While most vasectomy candidates will never use their stored sperm, they may get as much peace of mind from knowing "it's there" as they do from any other insurance policy.