Freezing and Storage of Sperm
The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) is a
statutory body, created in 1991 under the Human Fertilisation and
Embryology Act (1990). It regulates the storage of eggs, sperm and
Sperm storage is provided as a free service to NHS patients
where fertility might be impaired by a medical condition, or as a
side effect of treatment. Some forms of chemotherapy, radiotherapy
and surgical therapy can lead to infertility that may be temporary
or permanent. Before any of these therapies are carried out, it is
possible to store sperm using a freezing process known as
"cryopreservation". These samples can be used (after thawing) to
overcome possible sterility caused by the above treatments using
procedures such as Artificial Insemination, In Vitro Fertilisation
(IVF) or Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI).
How long can sperm be stored?
Sperm may generally be stored for up to 55 years. In such cases
a registered medical practitioner has to give written opinion that
the fertility of the person who wishes to store sperm, has, or is
likely to become significantly impaired. Sperm stored can only be
used by the patient providing the sperm, or together with their
partner, it cannot be donated to treat others.
Are there any implications of sperm
There are statutory (legal) regulations regarding the freezing
and storing of sperm. The Human Fertilisation & Embryology
Authority (HFEA) requires the patient's consent in writing prior to
sperm storage. The patient will need to consider:
- How long his sperm should be stored for.
- If he wishes to name a partner to be able to use his
- What will happen to his sperm if he died.
- What will happen to his sperm if it is not used.
The patient is free to withdraw or vary the terms
of his consent at any time, unless the sperm has already been
Disclaimer - The Department of Reproductive Medicine cannot be
held responsible for any accidental loss or damage of frozen semen
in their banks. In addition, we can not guarantee sperm will
survive the freeze-thaw process or that a successful pregnancy will
result from its usage.
Change in circumstances
The patient needs to keep us informed of any change
in their circumstances e.g. change of address, change of
partner. This is in case we have to notify them of any changes
in regulations. We will try to contact them 5 and 2 years before
the end of the statutory storage period. If we have no contact from
them, their samples will be destroyed when they reach the end
of their statutory storage period.
If there are any further questions that you may have, you should
contact Andrology on 0161 276 6473.
Sperm Banking for under 16's Information
The DVD 'Whack to the Future' from the Teenage Cancer Trust is
designed specifically for under 16s. It entails a cartoon story
encompassing the reasons and implications of storing sperm. It is
advisable to watch the DVD prior to consultation with Andrology, so
that they have a deeper understanding of what the process entails
and why it is recommended. (www.teenagecancertrust.org).