As sperm counts in the West are falling, there's been a boom in men's health startups applying tech to tackle reproductive health stigmas. But why do people freeze their sperm? How long can it be stored? How much does it cost? And can you really freeze your own sperm at home? ELANZA takes a look at the rising trend of sperm preservation.
Cryogenic sperm banking is probably not top of the average guy's list of ways to plan for the future, unless he has been trying to have a baby or has faced a medical issue that can cause fertility issues.
But while freezing and storing sperm has not historically been common practice, it’s growing in popularity as increasing numbers of individuals take charge of their reproductive health and fertility options. That's particularly true since the start of the pandemic and against a backdrop of declining sperm rates in the West, which scientists haven't yet pinpointed the reason for.
This article covers:
Why people are freezing their sperm: the advantages and common reasons
The process of using at at-home sperm freezing kit
The cost of freezing sperm
How long frozen sperm lasts and can be stored
Why are people freezing their sperm?
There are a variety of reasons why people may want or need to store their sperm. These include:
1. Medical treatment such as chemotherapy, radiation or cancer treatment
According to the American Cancer Society, radiation treatments use high-energy rays to kill cancer cells. Radiation that's aimed directly at testicles, or to nearby pelvic areas, can affect a male's fertility. This is because radiation at high doses kills the stem cells that produce sperm.
2. Advancing age
First-time fathers, on average, are now more than 27 years old and in total have fewer than two children. Even just in the late 1980s, first-time fathers were 25 years old and had 2.1 children.(WSJ)
3. Low sperm count
In a 2015 report, the Science Director of at-home sperm freezing kit solution Dadi, Dr. Grace Centola, and others demonstrated a decline in sperm count in a young adult male population. The report concluded that:
“It may be prudent for men to consider sperm cryopreservation if fertility is being delayed until later years/advanced age."
4. Environmental exposure due to high-risk jobs
A growing number of studies suggest that many workplace toxins can reduce sperm counts. some of these include:
Degreasing agents such as trichloroethylene
Environments exposing workers to very high levels of ambient heat
5. Gender affirming surgery (GAS)
Transgender women may choose to undergo estrogen therapy, which can lead to impaired spermatogenesis and testicular atrophy.
The effect of hormone therapy on fertility is potentially reversible, but the extent is unclear. In the case of gender-affirming surgery (GAS), transwomen undergo a orchiectomy (a removal of one or both testicles), which results in permanent sterility.
6. Male factor Infertility
Male infertility can be caused by low sperm production, abnormal sperm function or blockages that prevent the delivery of sperm. Illnesses, injuries, chronic health problems, lifestyle choices and other factors may contribute to male infertility.
"Morphology" refers to the shape, structure, and size of sperm. A sperm’s shape affects its ability to move efficiently, and to reach and fertilize the egg.
Although some men with abnormal sperm morphology have conceived naturally, studies show that infertile patients tend to have a significantly lower sperm morphology.
How does sperm freezing and storage work? 5 Steps
The sperm freezing process is relatively straightforward and involves collecting, analyzing, freezing and storing the sperm.
Step One: You will provide a semen sample as directed into a specially engineered receptacle provided.
Step Two: You post the sample to the laboratory via pre-arranged courier.
Step Three: At the lab, the sample will be tested for concentration, motility and morphology, with some companies also offering an analysis of volume, count.
Step Four: The next step in the process is cryogenic freezing and storage. A specialized cryoprotectant will be added to preserve and protect the sample, and then the sample will be into multiple vials.
Step Five: It will then be stored in liquid nitrogen in the lab until it is ready to be used
How much does at-home sperm freezing kit cost?
Depending on the length of time you need to store your sperm and how many cycles you do, at-home sperm freezing kits can be about 10X cheaper than traditional sperm banks. Sperm freezing can be a few hundred dollars if you do it at home, as compared to sperm freezing at a fertility clinic which can cost in the region of $1,000 or more.
Ro Sperm Kit
A basic kit from market-leading New York-based sperm storage solution Ro costs $199. This includes a lab-tested fertility report and year of storage fees.
Receive $25 off your first Ro sperm freezing kit order today!
Legacy offers a robust sperm testing analysis, which covers five key metrics to determine the health and quality of your sperm—volume, count, concentration, motility, and morphology.
A sperm analysis costs $195.2 analyses and 5 years of storage is $995 and you can get lifetime storage plus 3 analyses for $3,995.
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How long does frozen sperm last?
Sperm can be stored indefinitely. There have even been recorded pregnancies resulting from sperm frozen for over 20 years.
Because sperm can be stored for an extended period of time, people have the ability to store their sperm for as long or as short as needed, depending on health and family planning needs and how desired life goals and timelines unfold.
As with egg freezing, sperm freezing can be a way to get peace of mind around reproductive health and fertility. Especially with so many plans going on ice...
Should you freeze your sperm?
Deciding whether or not to freeze your sperm is a personal decision that takes into account a variety of aspects that weigh on both your personal goals and values.
There's no right or wrong answer but an ELANZA coach can help you get to the right decision (whatever that means to you) faster. ELANZA coaches are specially trained to provide you with a framework that allows you to peel away the pressures from society, relationships, family, etc. to help you make choices that help you feel clarity and confidence in your future.
You might just realize how much an ELANZA coach can do for your entire life...