Sperm Freezing (cryopreservation)

Sperm freezing preserves fertility

By Sarah Leavitt, Medical Research EditorLast modified: December 12, 2011

Sperm Freezing (cryopreservation)

Sperm freezing is just as the name implies: freezing sperm. Sperm freezing, also called semen cryopreservation, is a way of preserving fertility or helping other men with severe male infertility factors.

Sperm can either be provided by means of ejaculation or through a sperm retrieval procedure. If a man has a normal sperm count, he can provide a semen sample and infertility specialists can obtain the needed sperm from the semen. Men with certain sperm defects, such as azoospermia (very little or no sperm in the semen) will need to use a sperm retrieval method such as testicular sperm aspiration or Microdissection TESE.

There are a number of different methods for sperm freezing, most of which are still being experimented and studied. The most commonly used method of sperm freezing is glycerol. Other compounds such as sucrose can also be used to preserve sperm. Sperm is then thawed at around 40 degrees Celsius.

Sperm freezing is most commonly used on cancer patients. Prostate cancer patients who need to undergo a vasectomy are good candidates for sperm freezing. Sperm freezing enables them to maintain their fertility when it would otherwise be taken from them. Men with other conditions that may prevent them from being to provide sperm later in life should consider sperm freezing.

Sperm is also frozen when placed in sperm banks. A patient undergoing IVF with sperm donation uses donated sperm for fertilization. If the date of treatment is not at the same time as a man donated sperm, sperm will be frozen and put to use later.


Find an infertility specialist offering sperm freezing to learn more about the procedure.


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