Fertility preservation for male cancer patients

 

Freezing semen (semen cryostorage)

What happens if I opt to store semen?

How long can the sample be stored for?

What happens if I want to use the stored sperm sample later?

Frequently asked questions

 

It is possible that the chemotherapy drugs or radiotherapy that you are due to receive may have an adverse effect on your sperm. This temporary, or sometimes permanent, effect may make it more difficult for you to father children. The likelihood of damage to your sperm production depends on the exact nature and dose of your treatment, but it is often not possible  to predict the results. Whatever the treatment, you will still produce semen (fluid) when you ejaculate but there may be no sperm present in this fluid.

 

Freezing semen (semen cryostorage)

 

The aim of storing frozen semen before chemotherapy or radiotherapy, is to offer a potential backup in case the treatment does affect your sperm production. However, if your sperm function recovers after your treatment, you may not need to use these stored samples.

 

What happens if I opt to store semen?

 

The first step is to discuss your situation with one of the doctors at the Westmead Fertility Centre. See Making a first appointment and Our doctors articles. You will then need laboratory appointments to store the semen. The laboratory staff will carry out an assessment of the sperm in the sample you provide and then freeze the sample. Ideally you should store more than one sample. To optimise the quality of the samples, you should abstain from intercourse for at least two days prior to each sample collection.

 

How long can the sample be stored for?

 

We can store the sample for as long as you need. However, we do need you to contact us after 12 months, and every year after that in order to let us know that continued storage is required. You will also need to inform us if you change your address.

 

What happens if I want to use the stored sperm sample later?

 

To use your stored semen to try to achieve a pregnancy, it will firstly need to be thawed. Then, it can be used in one of two ways: artificial insemination, or by special In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) techniques. Hundreds of thousands of children have been conceived worldwide using stored sperm. The incidence of spontaneous abortions or fetal abnormalities are no higher than in the general population.

 

Artificial insemination

 

Your partner will be required to have blood taken in order to find out the exact day of ovulation. On that day, we will inseminate your washed semen directly into her womb. This process may not be successful if the number or motility of your sperm in the frozen-thawed semen sample is low.

 

IVF

 

If artificial insemination is not suitable, your partner would be required to receive drugs to make her produce a large number of eggs. These are collected by ultrasound-guided needle aspiration under a local anaesthetic, and then inseminated in the laboratory with your semen. When the number of sperm available is extremely low, it may be necessary in the laboratory to inject a single sperm into some of your partner’s eggs to fertilise the eggs. Either way, approximately 2 days later, it should be possible to replace a fertilised egg into her womb.

 

Frequently asked questions

 

Are these methods guaranteed to work?

 

The likelihood of cryostorage working will depend on a number of factors, such as your sperm count at the time of freezing, and your partner’s fertility. The average success rates are approximately 15% per month for artificial insemination and approximately 30-50% per month for IVF procedures.

 

What happens if I want to use the frozen sperm sample?

 

We will arrange an appointment to discuss the best method of treatment and organise treatment for soon after.

 

Attend an information seminar
Westmead ButtonWestmead Doctor, IVF clinic
When: Wednesday, August 9th, 2017
Time: 5:30pm for 6:00pm start
Where: Westmead Fertility Centre
Cost: Free