Sperm banking at a glance
- Sperm banking is the collection and preservation of a man’s sperm for future reproductive use.
- The collected sperm can be frozen and stored indefinitely until needed for assisted reproductive procedures, such as intrauterine insemination (IUI), in vitro fertilization (IVF) or sperm donation.
- The process involves cryopreserving the sperm, a special freezing process that preserves the sperm cells without damaging them.
What is sperm banking?
Sperm banking is the process of collecting and storing a man’s sperm for future use.
Sperm banking begins with the natural process of gathering sperm through ejaculation, but may also include sperm retrieval, which is the process of obtaining the sperm through surgical methods.
The collected sperm are then cryopreserved, a special method of freezing the sperm and stored in liquid nitrogen. When needed, sperm samples can be thawed for use in an assisted reproductive technique.
Reasons to bank sperm include undergoing a medical procedure that could damage the production of viable sperm later on – such as chemotherapy or radiation to treat cancer – and preserving the sperm for later use in a fertility procedure with a partner.
Men may also choose to bank their sperm to donate to infertile couples or other people wishing to undergo fertility treatment to have a child. Sperm banking for donation is not performed at the University of Colorado Advanced Reproductive Medicine clinic.
Egg & sperm banking
Although ARM does not offer egg or sperm banking, we do offer comprehensive reproductive services, including helping you coordinate with a reputable egg or sperm bank if you need to use donor eggs or sperm.
If you are interested in donating your eggs or sperm, there are many reputable agencies locally and nationally. Contact us for more details.
The process of sperm freezing and thawing
Once a semen sample is collected, it is quickly transferred to a laboratory for analysis of the quality and quantity of the specimen. The sperm are then separated into multiple vials to be frozen.
When sperm are needed, the sample is thawed and a lab technician examines the sperm for number and motility (movement). Viable sperm may then be used for fertility treatment such as inseminations or IVF procedures.
Benefits of sperm banking
Sperm banking allows men to preserve their fertility so they have the option of having genetically related children later on, particularly when the man’s fertility is at risk due to cancer treatment or other causes.
Using the natural semen collection method, there are no risks involved in acquiring the sperm sample. If a surgical collection technique is used, such as MESA, PESA or TESE, there are small risks commonly associated with minor surgical procedures.
The main risk of sperm banking is any potential damage to the sperm samples during the freezing or thawing process, although this risk is relatively small. The large number of sperm cells collected in most samples ensures a sample will have adequate numbers of healthy sperm even if damage does occur to some sperm.