Fertility preservation allows men who are undergoing a variety of treatments, surgery, or have certain occupational risks to retain their ability to have biological children in the future. Using liquid nitrogen and temperatures below -310°F, human tissues such as sperm, can be stored safely until the individual is ready to conceive. The frozen sperm specimens are thawed and may be used in conjunction with assisted reproductive technologies (ART) such as in vitro fertilization (IVF) and intrauterine insemination (IUI).
WHO SHOULD USE FERTILITY PRESERVATION AND WHY?
Fertility preservation is utilized for a variety of different reasons:
Cancer therapy: Prior to undergoing any cancer treatment, it is important to contact RMAPA so that we can best assess your current fertility level and develop a fertility preservation plan. We will work directly with your oncology doctors(s) to determine your risks of sperm loss and the amount of preservation necessary to prepare for future utilization. More conventional infertility treatments, such as Intra-uterine Insemination (IUI), will require larger amounts of sperm for success. However, if a patient has a lower sperm count smaller samples can be preserved for later use with an In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) treatment cycle.
Surgical Procedures: Males undergoing surgical procedures to the spinal, abdominal or reproductive area may also choose to preserve semen, due to the risk of injury that may occur. This surgical risk may cause azoospermia or absence of sperm. Some males may also choose to preserve sperm before sterilization procedures such as vasectomies. This allows the patient to have sperm readily available without reversal surgeries if their personal circumstances change.
Occupational hazards: Men in high-risk occupations such as military, law enforcement, and firefighters, may choose to preserve sperm. Other occupations that may affect infertility include work environments in extreme heat, ionizing radiation or toxic chemicals.
HOW IT WORKS
Patients who are advised or decide to undergo fertility preservation will first meet with one of our RMAPA medical professionals. During their new patient consult, a member of our clinical care team will discuss the fertility preservation process and options the patient may have to utilize the cryopreserved specimens in the future. Patients will also meet with our financial coordinator who will advise them of the costs associated with fertility preservation, including any insurance coverage or financial assistance the patient may be eligible to receive.
Patients will then provide a semen specimen for laboratory analysis and cryopreservation. RMAPA provides all necessary materials, in our onsite collection rooms. A complete semen analysis is performed before sperm freezing to ensure the best cryopreservation (freezing) results possible. During the freezing process, a small amount of the sample is set aside to analyze how well the semen survives the thawing process. This analysis is performed 24-hours after the sample is frozen. It is important to note that the success and viability of semen varies from patient to patient. Patients may choose to have multiple cryopreservation sessions. By having multiple frozen samples, the patient may have more options for their future reproductive needs.
STORAGE OF CRYOPRESERVED SPECIMENS
RMAPA will store all cryopreserved specimens onsite for six or twelve months (determined by package) at no charge. After the complementary storage is over, the patient can choose to keep their specimens stored in our facility, transfer their specimens to an outside storage facility, or discard their specimens. There are multiple outside facilities which offer long-term storage of cryopreserved specimens. Patients are encouraged to research their storage options and determine which option will work best with their future needs.
FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE FOR FERTILITY PRESERVATION
RMAPA partners with LIVESTRONG fertility, which provides a discount on services for cancer patients pursuing fertility preservation. The program requires an application to be submitted and approved in order for the patient to receive a discount on the services RMAPA provides. Patients deemed eligible for the LIVESTRONG fertility discounted services will receive the same level of care as those not utilizing the program.
In conjunction with the LIVESTRONG fertility program, The ReproTech Fertility Preservation Network provides low-cost long-term storage of cryopreserved specimens. Specimens are carefully transported from RMAPA to the ReproTech Ltd. facility, where they are safely stored until the patient chooses to use them.
For more information on these programs, please contact our Andrology laboratory at 610-820-6888, option 4.