Fertility Preservation for Men
Given the many ways in which a man’s future fertility can be negatively affected in today’s modern world, fertility preservation is increasingly becoming an important consideration for those who may have trouble conceiving in the future.
In this article we look at the factors that can negatively affect a man’s fertility in the future, the fertility preservation solutions that are now available to ensure that there is still hope of fathering a child in the future, and the process involved in sperm freezing and storage.
Factors Affecting a Man’s Future Fertility
There are many ways in which a man’s future fertility can be negatively affected in today’s modern world. Just some examples include certain types of pelvic or testicular surgery, the surgical removal of the testicles and a vasectomy.
In addition, certain illnesses, such as diabetes or multiple sclerosis, may cause erectile difficulty, while other diseases or injuries, such as a spinal cord disease or injury, can also negatively impact male fertility.
Male fertility can also be harmed by chemo therapy or radiation that damages sperm quantity, sperm quality or DNA.
Sadly, cancer therapy can destroy a person’s fertility and their chances of having a family. Your risk of being infertile after cancer treatment depends on your age, your pre-treatment fertility status, and the type of treatment you are undergoing. Your oncologist will be able to give you an estimate of the likelihood that your treatment will decrease your fertility.
Men in high risk occupations or sports may also consider fertility preservation.
For these reasons and others, many men decide to freeze sperm as a safeguard against unforeseen future circumstances.
If you are facing a medical treatment such as chemotherapy, radiation or surgery, or participate in a high risk occupation or sport that may affect your fertility, we may be able to help you preserve your fertility and the hope of fathering your own child in the future.
Male Fertility Preservation Solutions
Medfem Fertility Clinic offers state-of-the-art fertility preservation for men and women by providing the opportunity to freeze sperm and eggs before medical treatment.
Sperm cryopreservation – or freezing – is highly effective. The freezing and storage of semen samples allow men to use their sperm in the future, if their future fertility is in jeopardy.
It is strongly recommended that sperm are collected prior to initiation of medical treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation, because the quality of the sample and sperm DNA integrity may be compromised even after a single treatment session. Testicular shielding of patients during radiation of a tumour is important, if possible.
As planned chemotherapy may limit the number of ejaculates, action must be taken prior to the medical treatment. Therefore, at Medfem Fertility Clinic, we try to see all urgent cases within 24 hours of having received a referral from your physician.
Fortunately, with current technology – notably ICSI, even a very limited amount of sperm can be successfully used. In fact, dependent on the concentration of the sperm in the sample, one semen sample has the potential of multiple treatments in future.
In cases where there is no sperm in the sample, a testicular sperm extraction (TESE) can be offered. TESE is performed when there is an absence of sperm in the epididymis or if there is no epididymis. It involves making a small incision and removing a piece of testicular tissue to obtain sperm. The sperm obtained in this way is then also be frozen. This is a very successful method.
ICSI in particular allows the successful freezing and future use of a very limited amount of sperm. Intra cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) involves the selection and injection of a single sperm directly into an egg to fertilise. As such, ICSI is usually offered to couples who have had poor or no fertilisation during standard IVF, or when fertilisation is less likely to occur with routine IVF.
Because of its rate of fertilisation of around 70% and because only a few normal sperm are needed, ICSI gives even men who were previously considered completely sterile an excellent chance to have their own child. It is regarded as one of the major break throughs in treatment of male infertility. To date, tens of thousands of children have been born around the world as the result of ICSI.
Sperm Freezing and Storage – The Process
The process of freezing and storing semen samples so you and your partner may use them to become pregnant in the future is detailed below.
Your first step is to contact us to book an appointment – it is as simple as clicking here or contacting us on +27 (11) 463 2244.
Prior to this appointment, you will be asked to have a blood test for hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV. The tests are required as these infections may be transmitted through the semen to a female partner or an unborn child.
During your appointment, you will produce a semen specimen in a private room. It is preferred that you collect the specimen on-site in one of our private collection rooms. However, you may also collect the specimen at home if it can be in our laboratory within 30 minutes after it is produced.
Multiple donations over a period of time are usually recommended, but even one sperm sample may be enough for conception. Everyone’s situation is unique; however, most men freeze between two and five samples. In many cases, the time interval prior to surgery, chemotherapy or radiation treatment will be the deciding factor for how many samples can be collected for freezing. We recommend that you abstain from sexual intercourse and ejaculation for two days before the first sample and for about two days between samples. If you are unable to produce a semen specimen through sexual stimulation, sperm cells can be obtained through minor surgery or electrical stimulation.
Each time, your specimen will be analysed by one of our laboratory technicians, before it is frozen and stored for future use.
How Successful is Fertility Preservation for Men?
As sperm can be frozen indefinitely, sperm freezing and storing is a very effective method of preserving fertility for men.
Once you decide to use your frozen sperm samples in the future, one of our specialists will carefully assess you and your partner’s condition and develop a personalised treatment plan designed to give you the best chance of conceiving.
The success rates of using stored sperm vary and depend on several factors. First, your health or underlying illness may affect the quality of the sperm at the time they are frozen. Second, approximately 60% of the sperm frozen will survive the freezing and thawing process. Third, the success rates will depend on your female partner’s age, fertility status, and the method of assisted reproduction that is used.
Once the sperm is thawed, it can be put in your partner’s uterus in a process called intrauterine insemination (IUI). If the sperm is not of sufficient quality or quantity, in vitro fertilisation (IVF) or intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) are further options. This involves stimulating your partner’s ovaries, then retrieving several eggs which are each injected with a single sperm in our lab. The resulting embryos are then replaced back in your partner’s uterus. The success of IVF and ICSI can be as high as 40% to 60% per cycle, depending on the age and fertility status of your partner.
If you need to preserve your future fertility for any reason, our team at Medfem Fertility Clinic have years of experience in cryopreservation and can provide you with expert medical opinion. Booking your appointment to begin the process of preserving your fertility is as simple as clicking here or contacting us on +27 (11) 463 2244.