Freezing & Storage of Sperm
Why is sperm stored?
Some forms of chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgical therapy can lead to infertility which may be temporary or permanent. Before any of these therapies are carried out, it is possible to store sperm using a freezing process known as ‘cryopreservation’. These samples can be used (after thawing) to overcome possible sterility caused by the above treatments using procedures such as Artificial Insemination, In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) or Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI)
Where can sperm be stored?
All freezing and storage of sperm takes place at the Hewitt Centre in Liverpool.
How long can sperm be stored?
Sperm may be stored for as long as you wish although the usual maximum storage period for sperm by law is 10 years. Sperm may be stored for more than 10 years if a patient is under 45 years of age when the sperm was first provided for storage. In such cases a registered medical practitioner has to give a written opinion that the fertility of the person who wishes to extend the storage period, has, or is likely to become significantly impaired.
Sperm stored for an extended period can only be used by the patient providing the sperm, or together with their partner, it cannot be donated to treat others.
How successful is the use of frozen sperm?
There is very little in the way of scientific evidence to indicate how successful this treatment is in achieving a pregnancy. It is clear that the success of using frozen-thawed sperm samples does depend on the quality of the sperm stored. Poor sperm samples which have been frozen are
less likely to be successful in treatment.
Are there any implications of sperm freezing?
There are statutory (legal) regulations regarding the freezing and keeping of sperm. The Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority require us to obtain the patient’s consent in writing prior to sperm storage.
You will have to consider: -
- How long your sperm should be stored for
- What can your sperm be used for e.g. insemination of your partner, donation to others, research
- What will happen to your sperm if you die
- What will happen to your sperm if it is not used
You are free to withdraw or vary the terms of your consent at any time, unless the sperm has already been used.
You should also be aware that in the event of your death, you can have your name registered as the father of any child or children born as a result of using your sperm, provided you have consented to this in writing.
OTHER THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW
We promise to look after your sperm as carefully as possible but we cannot be held responsible for its safety or the risk of loss of sperm due to equipment failure. In addition, we can not guarantee your sperm will survive the freeze-thaw process or that a successful pregnancy will result from its usage.
Contact with the Hewitt Centre
You must keep the Hewitt Centre informed of any change in your circumstances e.g. change of address. This is because we will contact you annually to see if you still wish your sperm to be stored. If we are unable to contact you, your samples will be destroyed when they reach the end of their statutory storage period.
If there are any further questions that you may have, you should contact the Hewitt Centre on 0151 702 4256.