Semen Banking

Semen Banking

Sperm freezing, also known as “Sperm Banking” is a way of cryopreserving of sperm for future use in reproduction by means of IVF.

Semen Analysis
Once semen is collected, semen samples are analysed for volume, viscosity and pH levels, and microscopically evaluated to determine motility, sperm count, morphology and other important factors.

Semen Cryopreservation
Cryoprotectant is added to the semen to control sperm damage caused by freezing. The specimen is then divided into individual cryo–vials, placed into liquid nitrogen vapor for 30 minutes, and then plunged into liquid nitrogen. At a temperature of –196°C all metabolic activity is halted. Semen can thus be preserved for many years.

Who are the donors?
The donors are healthy men between 20 to 40, from a sound background, and usually graduates. Those who are healthy, with no family history of illness are requested to provide a sperm sample for testing. This semen is analyzed, and accepted only if it has superior qualities: a count over 100 million per millimetre; and motility of 70% to 80%. With the increasing spread of AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases (STD) in India and other countries, the importance of using properly tested and quarantined semen, for the treatment of infertility, has gained great importance.

What is artificial insemination with Donor sample (AID) or Donor Insemination (DI)?
In as many as 30% of infertile couples the male is responsible for infertility. A significant percentage of these males do not father children despite various treatments including ICSI. The solution is inseminating their wives with semen of another male (donor) at the time of her ovulation. This procedure is called AID or DI.

Who can benefit from AID?
AID (Artificial Insemination Donor) is generally advocated for males who suffers from following condition:

  • Low Sperm Count
  • Azoospermia
  • Oligospermia
  • Or where surgery like AIH, IUI, ICSI proves unsuccessful.
  • Genetic Disorder which can get transmitted to progeny.
  • Backup to the procedure of TESE (Testicular Sperm Extraction) and ICSI that is done for males with non–obstructive Azoospermia, especially when no sperms are found in the testicular biopsy.

How is the Semen obtained in Semen Banking?
Donor semen sample can be used in two ways either fresh or frozen

  • Fresh Semen Insemination:
    It is insemination where the donated semen is used within an hour of ejaculation. The semen can be placed on the cervix without processing or can be placed in the womb after processing as is usually done with IUI. This is done commonly in India. However, there is always the remote chance of a donor carrying the latent infection of HIV that may manifest itself as a positive after 2 to 3 months of the insemination. It is due to these reasons many ART units have given up this technique.
  • Frozen Semen From Semen Bank:
    After collecting the semen from an HIV negative donor, it is processed, added to straws or vials. These are then stored in liquid nitrogen containers called semen banks, of –196°C for six months. In short, it is quarantined. After 6 months the donor is retested for HIV. If the second HIV test is negative, this sample is released from quarantine and insemination takes place only at that time.

Which of the two is a better alternative?
The success rate of both fresh as well as frozen AID is almost similar. However in case of frozen AID it is important to accurately pinpoint the timing of ovulation. This is because the motility of frozen thawed sample decreases rapidly within 12 hours, in contrast to fresh insemination, where the sperms stay alive in the body for 48–72 hours. However, the biggest advantages of frozen samples are its minimal risk of HIV transmission.

What is the Success rate of AID (Artificial Insemination Donor) ?
The success rate is in the region of 15–20%. That means if 10 couples undergo AID every month, 1 or 2 couples would become pregnant every month. At the end of 6 months 5 to 6 couples become pregnant. The remaining 4–5 couples who do not become pregnant, can undergo further AID for 6 months. During this time 2 more will become pregnant. At the end of one year around 80% (8 out of 10 started couples) willacheive pregnancy. The two couples who fail to become pregnant at the end of one year can either opt for IVF/ICSI with donor sperm or go in for adoption.

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