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Sperm Bank

Sperm banking — long-term freezing of human sperm — is the best option for preserving future fertility for men facing threats to their ability to father children. Sterilization, reduction in fertility, or genetic damage can result from chemotherapy and radiation therapy for cancer, prostate surgery, vasectomy or high-risk occupations.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

You have two options: Make an appointment at our facility or bank from home using our OverNiteMale® Kit. It is important that you contact our andrology coordinator to schedule appointments or order OverNiteMale® Kits and start banking specimens as soon as possible. It is recommended that patients bank two to four samples to optimize chances of pregnancy in the future. Since two to three days of sexual abstinence are recommended between ejaculates, the process will take approximately one to two weeks. This can be adjusted to accommodate patients with limited time available prior to surgery or therapies.

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HOW IS THE SPECIMEN PRESERVED?

When your specimen is received in our lab, a complete semen analysis with morphology is performed to determine its fertility potential (count and motility analysis is performed on all subsequent samples). A cryoprotectant is then added to protect the sperm during the freezing process, and the specimen is stored in 1ml cryovials. The number of vials will be directly related to the ejaculate volume and will vary with patients and with ejaculates. On the average, each specimen will fill one to four vials. The sperm is then frozen in liquid nitrogen tanks at -196oC (-321oF). Thus, electrical failure will not affect specimen storage. At this low temperature, sperm may be effectively stored indefinitely.

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HOW WELL DO THE SPERM SURVIVE?

In general, sperm cells freeze very well. In the average man, 60%—80% of sperm retain motility when thawed. This will depend upon the quality of semen and the freezing capability of the individual specimen. Many patients with cancer have reduced sperm number and motility even before therapy. Poor quality specimens do not freeze as well as normal semen samples.

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GETTING STARTED

Schedule your appointment at least one day in advance of your first visit by calling 312.996.7713. The andrology coordinator will handle each call courteously and confidentially. You have the choice of visiting our facility or utilizing our OverNiteMale® Kit, which allows you to produce a semen specimen in the privacy of your own home.

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ON-SITE VISIT

Our main patient area is located on the west campus of the University of Illinois at Chicago. Deposits will be accepted during the morning hours, Monday through Friday.

  1. Two days of sexual abstinence is recommended between ejaculates to ensure optimal sperm numbers. Therefore, schedule your visits accordingly.

  2. The specimen will be produced in a collection room at the sperm bank. This is accomplished by the individual ejaculating directly into a sterile container through manual stimulation (masturbation). If the specimen is produced at home and brought to the clinic, sterile jars provided by the UI Health Andrology Laboratory must be used. Additionally, it is very important for sperm survival that the specimen be kept warm (close to body temperature) and brought to the University Andrology Laboratory immediately (within one hour).
     
  3. On your first visit, you will be asked to complete a patient information form and sign a consent form that constitutes our legal agreement to freeze and store your sperm.

An adequate number of specimens should be collected to ensure a sufficient number of vials for future use. This may require two to four visits to the Andrology Lab. For scheduling and/or further information  regarding our program, please contact our Andrology Coordinator, at 312.996.7713.

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Banking from Home OverNiteMale® Kit

Our OverNiteMale® Kit makes it possible for patients to bank from home without traveling to our facility. Sperm samples are collected in a container supplied in the kit and shipped to our laboratory using FedEx®. The sperm are protected during shipment by a specially formulated transport buffer. The OverNiteMale® Kit was created in our laboratory in 1996 to ensure the safe delivery of your sperm to our laboratory for banking. To order your OverNiteMale® Kit or for further information, call the  Andrology Coordinator at 312.996.7713.

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HOW DO YOU ATTEMPT PREGNANCY WITH FROZEN SPERM?

Your cryopreservation results will determine the type of fertility treatment appropriate for you. It is important to learn from your referring physician or from the Sperm Bank the quality of your frozen specimens in order to determine in advance what type of treatment will be most appropriate for your attempt at pregnancy.

For specimens with normal count and motility, artificial insemination of thawed sperm into the spouse/partner's cervix is performed by a physician. This will require timed ovulation monitoring during the desired month of conception with one to two inseminations (one to two vials each) around the time the egg is released. We recommend the use of a fertility specialist for this procedure since there will be a limited number of attempts at pregnancy.

For specimens with below normal parameters for sperm count and/or motility, special assisted reproductive technologies (ART), such as in vitro fertilization (IVF) or intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), may be necessary. UI Health urologists and reproductive endocrinologists (fertility specialists) are available for consultation and services.

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HOW TO OBTAIN AND USE YOUR SAMPLES

Arrangement for the shipment of vials should be done at least 72 hours prior to the time you wish to begin artificial insemination or specialized ART procedures. Alternatively, if you live locally and desire your own physician to perform the procedures, arrangements can be made for local pick up and short-term storage in your physician's office at the time of the spouse/ partner's midcycle. If you need your samples shipped to another location in the United States, arrangements can be made to ship your specimens via FedEx®. Please call the laboratory for further information. 

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