MALE FERTILITY PRESERVATION
Freezing of semen samples in liquid nitrogen (cryopreservation) is generally the most effective method of preserving a man`s fertility during adolescence and adulthood. Initially, this procedure was developed in order to maintain the future reproductive potential of young men undergoing cancer treatment in the form of gonadotoxic chemotherapy. Currently, it is also possible to conserve sperm samples for other reasons, such as long-term male fertility preservation in the face of ongoing research that shows increasing rates of male factor infertility, perhaps partly due to the negative cumulative effects of toxic environmental exposures.
Fertility preservation is now an proven procedure
Fertilys offers the cryopreservation of testicular tissue as a method of preserving fertility potential, including for pre-pubertal boys facing cancer treatment.
There are different indications for freezing semen samples:
- Male fertility preservation in the context of a medical condition, cancer-related or not, that presents a risk of permanent sterility:
- Malignant conditions such as lymphoma, leukemia, testicular cancer, etc. (Fertility preservation in this case is covered by RAMQ).
- Non-malignant conditions, such as a benign testicular tumour, testicular torsion, urogenital surgery, a neuropathy, etc.
- Prolonging fertility potential in healthy men who are not currently in a relationship and are concerned about the possible long-term negative effects of exposure to pollution, pesticides, or endocrine disrupters in the environment on their sperm quality.
- Storage of sperm for sperm donation purposes.
- Unforeseen conditions related to in vitro fertilization treatment, such as erectile or ejaculatory dysfunction on the day of egg collection.
- Natural disasters or military deployment.
In the context of cancer, cryopreservation of sperm samples is generally possible after the age of 12 years. Conditions such as fever or illness may influence the quality of the specimen. If cancer treatment is planned, sperm cryopreservation should be arranged as soon as possible, before the initiation of chemotherapy. In this context, the usual recommended practice of producing a specimen after 2 days of abstinence from ejaculation is not essential. If time permits, it is recommended that multiple sperm samples be obtained for cryopreservation (ideally 2-3). If the cancer is aggressive and does not allow for any delay in treatment, it is usually still possible to obtain one sperm sample for cryopreservation before initiating treatment.
Cryopreservation of sperm is done onsite at Fertilys, following a medical consultation.
Ideally, the sperm sample is produced onsite at Fertilys as well, in a private room reserved for this purpose, most often via masturbation. Results of tests for HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia must be available before the sample is produced. After the sperm sample is analyzed, it is divided into smaller portions in “straws” that are frozen for future use. Depending on the quality of the sample (and other medical indications), it may be used for artificial insemination or for in vitro fertilization.
The straws are carefully labeled, and there is a diligently maintained system to ensure that each straw is identifiable from the moment of storage until the moment it is used.
The straws are stored in tanks of liquid nitrogen at -196°C, and may be kept frozen for many years without affecting the sperm`s ability to fertilize an egg. Studies have been published showing that pregnancies have been conceived using sperm that was cryopreserved for over 30 years, without increasing the risk of chromosomal abnormalities or malformations in the baby.
Our team is here to help and to answer any questions you may have. Depending on your situation, we can also refer you other health care professionals as needed, such as a psychologist, sex therapist, etc.
Take the first step towards your family project by contacting FERTILYS