Everything to Know About Freezing Sperm: Facts, Cost, and More – Fatherly

The stress of living through COVID-19 has rearranged many priorities, including family planning discussions about when to have your first child or more children. If youre postponing having a family for now, theres another topic that needs to be discussed: Freezing sperm.

Simply wanting or being ready to have a baby isnt a guarantee that youll have one. Like most important things in life, fertility is complicated and requires a bit of strategy and freezing sperm is one way to ensure youll be able to conceive a child when youre ready. But this comes with a number of questions: How does the process of freezing sperm work? Do I need to undergo sperm testing first? How much does it cost to freeze sperm? Since were in the midst of a pandemic, can I freeze sperm at home?

Fortunately, you have options. According to Rachel A. McConnell, MD, Fertility Specialist at Columbia University Fertility Center, many health care systems offer safe, virtual options for testing and freezing sperm. There are even direct-to-consumer sperm testing kits that could also be a viable choice. Heres everything you need to know about freezing sperm.

Freezing sperm is a multi-step process that usually begins with a consultation with your healthcare provider. As with many routine medical appointments, McConnell says some components of fertility care can take place through tele-health. Start by making an appointment with a fertility specialist or urologist to test your sperm.

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Why? The answer is simple. Before you freeze your sperm, youll want to make sure its healthy. Generally, fertility clinics have men collect sperm samples in the clinic. But during the pandemic, McConnell says you may have the option to collect at home. Just make sure to follow your providers instructions about how and when to ejaculate. To ensure the best sample possible, you might need to abstain from ejaculating for up to seven days beforehand.

Once you drop the sample off at your clinic (or mail it in), your involvement is done. After analyzing the quality and quantity of sperm in your sample, McConnell says your provider will likely freeze it temporarily.

Typically wed do an analysis of that sample and freeze it so we can provide feedback on how the sperm sample survived the thaw, she says. If you plan to freeze, you want to make sure it still functions after thawing.

Finally, you and your doctor will discuss freezing your sperm. Many health care systems have their own cryopreservation facilities, where patients pay an annual fee to freeze their sperm until theyre ready to conceive through artificial insemination.

Typically, the process of freezing sperm costs no more than $1,000. Sperm banks do charge a yearly fee for storage and upkeep of frozen samples. However, the payment is minimal: On average, that fee is $300 or less. The more samples youre freezing, the higher the cost. There are, however, times when a reduced rate will apply. Some sperm banks, for instance, provide a discount to those who are freezing sperm before such procedures as chemotherapy.

If youd rather not go through your healthcare provider, or your insurance doesnt cover it, you may consider a direct-to-consumer sperm testing and sperm freezing kit as an alternative. Khaled Kteily, founder and CEO of Legacy, a direct-to-consumer sperm testing and storage company, says at-home tests are generally less costly and sometimes even more reliable than clinic-provided tests.

Depending on your insurance, Kteily says fertility clinic testing can cost between two and five times the cost of doing it yourself. Legacys kit costs $195, and along with added discretion, it comes with professional guidance about next steps for boosting your fertility and the option to freeze your sperm at Legacys facilities.

As with a clinic-provided analysis, you collect your sample at home. But instead of dropping it off at the clinic, you overnight it to Legacy, who releases your analysis within a day of receiving it. You can opt to discuss your results with a medical provider on staff, who can give personalized recommendations about your next steps.

If you choose to freeze your sperm, you might pay less with a private company. Legacys cryopreservation rates start at $100 a year, compared to thousands of dollars annually through medical facilities.

McConnell says shes seen comparable sperm analysis results with clinic-provided tests and direct-to-consumer kits. At-home sperm kits can help patients get an idea of their sperm analysis, and so far, the quality of the analysis seems to be pretty good compared to an in-office sample, she says.

Freezing sperm is a way of preserving your ability to have kids in the future. Some men freeze their sperm if they plan to get a vasectomy but may still want to conceive down the road. Even if youre getting a vasectomy, its not a bad idea to want to freeze just to make sure youre taking care of that potential option for life changes, McConnell says.

Men undergoing chemo or radiation, which can decrease sperm count, may also consider preserving sperm. Patients with other health conditions like diabetes, which can cause sperm to deteriorate over time may also opt to cryopreserve as a protective measure.

Another common reason men choose to freeze their sperm is that theyre getting older but arent ready to have kids. According to McConnell, sperm quality and quantity can decline as a man ages, especially after age 35. So freezing sperm when youre young and healthy can improve your chances of conception.

There are, of course, many reasons to consider freezing sperm that are not listed above. The pandemic threw a curve ball for many men. Compared to early 2020, Legacys average order volume is six times higher. Part of the increase, Kteily says, is the closure of fertility clinics; other men want to preserve their sperm in case getting sick with COVID-19 has a long-term impact on their fertility. Plus, people are at home more thinking about their health.

Its natural for people to think about their legacies and plan families during a global health pandemic, he says.

No matter which route you choose, Kteily encourages men not to drop the fertility conversation just because youre not ready to become a dad during a global pandemic. Its important to know this about yourself, since fertility can be such an important part of your overall health, he says. And youre not just doing it for you, but for your partner.

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Everything to Know About Freezing Sperm: Facts, Cost, and More - Fatherly

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