Infertility can be heartbreaking, especially for a couple who are trying to have children. Thankfully though, modern medicine has given us alternate ways to become pregnant without having to adopt or use a surrogate mother.

These methods of alternate fertility have only grown more effective as the years go by and recently a study at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis found that biopsied sperm from males with no sperm in their semen are just as effective frozen as they are fresh. This means that the procedures don’t have to be rushed. The research also included the type of facility where sperm is taken and its distance from the IVF laboratory, and neither had any effect on pregnancy outcomes.

The biopsy is generally done at an outpatient facility and it involves taking tissue from the testicles to be examined for sperm. If sperm is found in the sample, it’s taken and used immediately, or used in ICSI, or frozen and saved for later use. The fact than frozen sperm is just as effective as fresh makes the entire process much more convenient.

Dr. Kenan Omurtag, the study’s first author and assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology, says that “The convenience and ease of being able to use frozen sperm taken by biopsy in ICSI offers many advantages over fresh sperm,” and Dr. Randall Odem, co-author of the study and professor of obstetrics and gynecology, remarked that “men with no sperm in their semen now have more options to have children of their own.”

Because many alternative fertility methods require several days to prepare, it’s a comfort to many families that the quality of sperm doesn’t deteriorate when it’s frozen for convenience. In the study, 136 men who received biopsies to be used in ICSI were examined to see if they had their sperm fresh or frozen. 84% froze their sperm for later use, and 16% used fresh sperm. There was a significant statistical difference in fertilization rate, but not in the delivery rate or pregnancy results. That means that that even if the sperm wasn’t used to fertilize an egg right away, it was still just as effective in producing a healthy pregnancy.

Just like egg banking, freezing biopsied sperm can give couples a feeling of security. Males without sperm in their semen can still plan for the future by being biopsied even if they aren’t ready for children. Also like egg banking, sperm is the most viable during a man’s younger years, so it’s in their best interest to have the procedure done as early as possible after discovering their infertility.

Source: Washington University in St. Louis (2013, August 6). Freezing sperm taken directly from testicles is effective option for infertile couples. ScienceDaily.

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