Semen cryopreservation

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Semen cryopreservation (commonly called sperm banking) is a procedure to preserve sperm cells. Semen can be used successfully indefinitely after cryopreservation. For human sperm, the longest reported successful storage is 21 years. It can be used for sperm donation where the recipient wants the treatment in a different time or place, or for men undergoing a vasectomy to still have the option to have children.


The most common cryoprotectant used for semen is glycerol (10% in culture medium). Often sucrose or other di-, trisaccharides are added to glycerol solution. Cryoprotectant media may be supplemented with either egg yolk or soy lecithin, with the two having no statistically significant differences compared to each other regarding motility, morphology, ability to bind to hyaluronate in vitro, or DNA integrity after thawing. [1]

Semen is frozen using either a controlled-rate, slow-cooling method (slow programmable freezing or SPF) or a newer flash-freezing process known as vitrification. Vitrification gives superior post-thaw motility and cryosurvival than slow programmable freezing.[2]


Thawing at 40°C seems to result in optimal sperm motility. On the other hand, the exact thawing temperature seems to have only minor effect on sperm viability, acrosomal status, ATP content, and DNA.[3]


In terms of the level of sperm DNA fragmentation, up to three cycles of freezing and thawing can be performed without causing a level of risk significantly higher than following a single cycle of freezing and thawing. This is provided that samples are refrozen in their original cryoprotectant and are not going through sperm washing or other alteration in between, and provided that they are separated by density gradient centrifugation or swim-up before use in assisted reproduction technology.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Soy lecithin replaces egg yolk for cryopreservation of human sperm without adversely affecting postthaw motility, morphology, sperm DNA integrity, or sperm binding to hyaluronate. Michael L. Reed, Ph.D.Corresponding Author Informationemail address, Peace C. Ezeh, M.S., Amanda Hamic, B.S., Douglas J. Thompson, M.D., Charles L. Caperton, M.D. Fertility and Sterility. Volume 92, Issue 5, Pages 1787-1790 (November 2009)
  2. ^ Vutyavanich T, Piromlertamorn W, Nunta S (April 2010). "Rapid freezing versus slow programmable freezing of human spermatozoa". Fertil. Steril. 93 (6): 1921–8. doi:10.1016/j.fertnstert.2008.04.076. PMID 19243759. 
  3. ^ Calamera JC, Buffone MG, Doncel GF, et al. (December 2008). "Effect of thawing temperature on the motility recovery of cryopreserved human spermatozoa". Fertil. Steril. 93 (3): 789–794. doi:10.1016/j.fertnstert.2008.10.021. PMID 19059590. 
  4. ^ Thomson LK, Fleming SD, Barone K, Zieschang JA, Clark AM (March 2010). "The effect of repeated freezing and thawing on human sperm DNA fragmentation". Fertil Steril 93 (4): 1147–1156. doi:10.1016/j.fertnstert.2008.11.023. PMID 19135665.