Male Infertility
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Semen Banking


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Semen Banking

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Sperm freezing, also known as "Sperm Banking" is a way of cryopreserving donated sperm for future use in reproduction by means of IVF.

Who are the donors?

The donors are healthy men between 20 to 40, from a sound background, and usually graduates. Those who are healthy, with no family history of illness are requested to provide a sperm sample for testing. This semen is analyzed, and accepted only if it has superior qualities: a count over 100 million per millimetre; and motility of 70% to 80%. Blood is checked to make sure they are negative for AIDS, Hepatitis and STDs.

How is sperm frozen?

Similar to the process of embryo freezing, sperm is also analyzed, divided into smaller batches and then transferred into vials. The sperm is combined with a cryoprotectant fluid and gradually frozen in liquid nitrogen vapor. After about 1 hour, they are stored in liquid nitrogen containers for long term storage.

How is sperm thawed?

After the first 48 hours, a specimen of sperm is thawed to test how well it survived the freeze. At this time, the lab will be able to determine which vials can be used for insemination, at which point the selected sperm will be thawed at room temperature and by diluting with water until nothing remains of the cryoprotective fluid. The thawing process of frozen sperm is similar to that of frozen embryos.

How is the sperm frozen and stored in a sperm bank ?

After liquefaction, the semen sample is mixed with an equal quantity of the cryoprotectant medium ( a chemical which prevents the sperm from being damaged even at very low temperatures) and is loaded into plastic straws. These are uniquely coded and sealed; and then placed in steel tubs of liquid nitrogen where they are frozen to - 196 degree Celsius. One day later, one straw is removed and thawed to see how the sperms survived the cold ( cryosurvival). Only samples which contain at least 25 to 40 million motile sperm are accepted.

The sperms are then kept in cold storage for 6 months, which is how long it takes for the HIV virus ( which causes AIDS) to become detectable in a person's blood after infection. This is called the quarantine period. The donor's blood is then retested for HIV, hepatitis and STDs, and the infected donors weeded out.

Donors are paid a little more than conveyance costs - they are usually philanthropic men who have experienced fatherhood and want to make another couple happy. They are not allowed to produce more than 10 babies and the doctors generally scatter the offspring so that there is no risk of half siblings unwittingly marrying each other

How is the Semen obtained in Semen Banking?

A donor male donates the semen after he is screened and tested as safe for various infections such as HIV, Hepatitis and other Venereal Diseases. At BabiesandUs lab, we test the donor for infections every 3 months.

The semen thus obtained can be used in two ways : -
Fresh Semen Insemination : - It is insemination where the donated semen is used within an hour of ejaculation. The semen can be placed on the cervix without processing or can be placed in the womb after processing as is usually done with IUI. This is done commonly in India. However, there is always the remote chance of a donor carrying the latent infection of HIV that may manifest itself as a positive after 2 to 3 months of the insemination. It is due to these reasons many ART units have given up this technique.

Frozen Semen From Semen Bank : - After collecting the semen from an HIV negative donor, it is processed, added to straws or vials. These are then stored in liquid nitrogen containers called semen banks, of -196C for six months. In short, it is quarantined. After 6 months the donor is retested for HIV. If the second HIV test is negative, this sample is released from quarantine and insemination takes place only at that time.

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