Everything to know about freezing your sperm

Sperm-Freezing

The freezing and storage of a semen sample, often referred to as sperm banking or cryopreservation, is the most common way for men to preserve their fertility. Unlike the process women undergo to freeze eggs or embryos, sperm freezing is quick and easy, widely available, and inexpensive.

There are many reasons you may want to consider freezing sperm. One is age. Because men experience more fertility problems after the age of 40, sperm freezing may be a good idea if you’re growing older and are: 

  • Undecided about future children
  • Currently focused on other life events
  • Still searching for the right partner
  • Aware that your sperm count is low 
  • Aware that your sperm quality is decreasing 


You may consider freezing your sperm for other reasons, too, including if you are:

  • Undergoing surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy 
  • Having a vasectomy and could change your mind 
  • Unable to produce a sample at the time of fertility treatment 
  • Being deployed overseas in the US military 
  • Surgically transitioning from a male to a female 
Sperm preservation by the numbers
Note: Treatment cycles can be affected by many variables. The numbers above represent ranges and may not reflect your experience. Please discuss your personal treatment protocol with your healthcare provider.

How it works

You’ll be asked to provide a sample, which will then be processed, frozen, and stored until you’re ready to try for a child.

In the future, your sperm can be thawed and used for intrauterine insemination or in-vitro fertilization.

Possible side effects

There are no side effects for men, although not all sperm will survive the freezing and thawing process.

Success rates

Using frozen sperm for fertility treatment has been shown to be just as successful as using fresh sperm. Frozen sperm may actually be more convenient for IVF cycles, since it allows a male partner to produce a sperm sample prior to egg retrieval.

Starting the process

Your first step is to make an appointment with a sperm bank—called a cryobank. There, a specialist will help you understand the sperm freezing process, including any risks to your sample.

A list of facilities can be found at spermbankdirectory.com.

What to expect

STEP 1: Sample collection

You’ll be asked to masturbate into a sterile container provided by the clinic or sperm bank. If this is done at home rather than at the facility, you’ll usually have an hour to deliver your sample to the lab.

STEP 2: Semen analysis

Your semen will be washed and analyzed to ensure that it contains living sperm. Sperm count, motility (the sperm’s ability to swim), and shape will be recorded. You may also be tested for infectious diseases.

STEP 3: Preparation

Prior to freezing, your sperm will be mixed with a special fluid to protect it from damage, and divided between several containers. This will allow you to thaw smaller batches of sperm at different times in the future.

STEP 4: Freezing and storage

Your samples will be frozen for future use in a liquid nitrogen storage tank. The length of time a clinic will store your sperm varies, and sperm stored for more than 20 years has been used successfully. You and your doctor will discuss storage time and plans should you elect not to use your samples.

Know that there are many things that can affect sperm production. Your cryobank may recommend you provide more than one sample to improve your chances of having a child in the future.