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The Sperm Bank Process: Before a Vasectomy

The process involved in getting your sperm banked before your vasectomy are quite straight forward. Though the process differs between sperm banks (cryobanks), the basic procedure is the same. To sperm bank involves a two step process, but it can be also reduced to a single step. The first step involves the paperwork, tests and collecting the sperm, which is often performed by a laboratory in a fertility clinic.

The second step involves sending the sperm from the laboratory to a sperm bank for long term storage. An alternative for those who either don't live near a laboratory or desire this convenience is to utilize a home kit, allowing you to collect your specimen at home and couriering the ejaculate overnight to a lab which takes care of the rest of the process.

Here are the sperm bank steps broken down in more detail.

  1. Before the sperm bank gets involved, you will meet with a lab representative who will review your case history and medical background. At this time the necessary paperwork will be completed. Blood tests for infectious disease such as hepatitis, HIV, and syphilis may be required by the sperm bank prior to doing a semen analysis. Solders Sperm Bank Storage

  2. The lab performs a comprehensive semen analysis on the first specimen in order to provide a complete picture of the sperm quantity and quality. Additionally, a freeze test is performed on this initial specimen. After a minimum of 48 hours has elapsed, from the time of the initial freezing, an initial "test sample" is thawed and tested again to ascertain how well the sperm survived the freezing. This will offer significant information that will guide the lab about preparation and recommendation on the number of samples necessary.

  3. The ejaculate can be provided from home or at the lab. Clear and exact instructions will be provided, if you produce the ejaculate sample from home and use a sperm banking by mail/air kit. Or, at the lab, a private room will be provided and visual material will be made available.

  4. Taking a specimen (ejaculate) for sperm banking usually involves more than one appointment. However, some labs will use the initial ejaculate to both conduct the tests and gather the first specimen for sperm banking. On average three ejaculates are collected for sperm banking. Some men may choose to sperm bank from one ejaculate. However, the quality of the sperm often necessitates using more than one vial (or straw) of sperm for each attempt to achieve a pregnancy. On average 20% of thawed sperm becomes non-viable. Generally, two or three specimens will provide sufficient specimens for multiple pregnancy attempts utilizing Assisted Reproductive Technologies.

  5. Each ejaculate requires an additional appointment and a minimum of 2 days between appointments, in order to build up the sperm count for more successful sperm banking. Each subsequent specimen is analyzed prior to freezing in order to assess total number of viable sperm.

  6. Immediately after the ejaculate has been analyzed, it is divided into smaller batches and transferred into vials for freezing; each one, holding between 0.4 and 1.0 ml. A special compound (a cryoprotectant) is added to aid the freezing process.

  7. The test tubes are gradually frozen in liquid nitrogen vapor, letting the sperm freeze slowly. After 30 to 60 minutes, they are transferred into liquid nitrogen tanks for permanent frozen storage.

  8. After a minimum of 48 hours from the time of the initial freezing, an initial "test sample" is thawed and tested again to ascertain from each specimen how well the sperm survived the freezing.

  9. Once the banking is complete, the results are shared and/or discussed with your primary doctor. This information will be important when determining which specimen vials to thaw for an insemination. Each sample is stored in its own specially marked storage unit.

  10. The sperm is then moved to a facility for sperm banking, for as long as you choose to maintain it. Some cryobanks split the specimens, storing half of any individual's specimens in two separate nitrogen tanks in case of tank malfunction. Some may actually store the two tanks on separate physical sites in case of an unforeseeable disaster to the building in which a tank is stored. The nitrogen tanks are checked daily for temperature and liquid nitrogen leakage.

  11. If you require use of the sperm, the sperm bank will require written notification. The sperm bank then releases the specimen, shipping it to the physician that has been specified.

  12. To have the sperm destroyed, most sperm banks require consents that have been notarized.

Sperm banks often keep specimens frozen for many years. But stored sperm is less vigorous than fresh. Only half of the sperm cell specimens may prove motile, or fertile, after emerging from their frozen state. So, special fertility assistance procedures are required. These are called Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART) such as artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization and sperm microinjection.

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