Can I collect my sperm at home and store it in my freezer? I have heard there is a kit that allows me to do this?
There are collection and storage kits that allow you to initially collect and freeze your sperm specimen at home, but are not intended for storage in your kitchen freezer. The necessary temperature for maintaining sperm viability is far colder than a home freezer maintains. Specialized kits sold by only a few andrology clinics are designed to let you manage the collection process in the comfort of your own home. They can be purchased and shipped to you for about $350. (Please go to www.nwcryobank.com). These kits maintain the necessary frigid temperature for up to about a week, providing plenty of time to store several specimens for return to the andrology clinic. The kits include the necessary sterile implements for collection.
Naturally, home sperm collection is preferable over visiting a clinic, but freezing sperm is rather involved, and requires a great deal of attention to detail. Be sure to carefully follow the clinic's instructions.
If you decide this process is for you, here's what to expect:
The kits usually contain several vials for collecting multiple specimens over several days, thus ensuring back-ups. The specimen must be collected through masturbation using no lubricants, to avoid contamination. Once collected, the sample needs to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes while enzymes in the seminal fluid allow the initially thick sample to become more liquid.
Then the sample needs to be mixed with cryoprotectant, or antifreeze, which should be prepackaged inside the vials included in the sperm collection kit. The antifreeze must be separated from the sperm before insemination.
Do not attempt to freeze and thaw the sperm on your own for home insemination. Only an andrology lab can perform the critical step of extracting the sperm from the antifreeze upon thawing.
Also, even if you know that the sperm is of good quality, it is important to know how well it tolerates freezing and thawing. Your infertility clinic or a sperm bank can provide you with valuable information on the quality of the sperm and its capacity to withstand freezing. Results can be extremely variable. Northwest Andrology reports that on average, healthy normal sperm in one out of ten men simply do not hold up to cryopreservation. Poor sperm survival rates can greatly impact the outcome of IUI, which requires more sperm than other procedures like IVF and IVF with ICSI.
Unfortunately, there is no "in between" process that allows for short term home freezing in one's freezer for out-of-town moments, or other reasons. And timing fresh sperm for home insemination also requires a certain degree of precision. If the sperm provider cannot be there at the exact time he is needed, the sperm will die in the seminal fluid fairly quickly. If fresh sperm are to be used, it is necessary to do the insemination within an hour or two of collecting the sample.