Frozen sperm works as well as fresh for insemination treatments

There are different reasons why one would want to freeze their sperm to have a baby later in life instead of at a young age. This could include unpleasant ones such as going through cancer treatment that would empty the male’s seminal fluid, while it also can be an individual’s personal choice.

And those who think that fresh sperm is more effective than frozen sperm used in intrauterine insemination (IUI) are actually wrong, which is good news according to a new study. 

The study’s results at the 38th annual meeting of ESHRE revealed that pregnancy rates are no different between cycles using frozen or fresh sperms. An analysis of 5,335 intrauterine insemination cycles was conducted at Dr. Panagiotis Cherouveim’s center between 2004 and 2021, a press release said.

Cryopreservation is basically collecting, freezing, and storing sperm. Though it’s a standard process for people who’d like to use or donate their samples, it’s still considered a controversial act as patients worry that the process could decrease the viability of their sperm. Usually, the quarantine period of sperms lasts for about six months to screen the samples for infections before using them.

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“Patients undergoing IUI should be counseled about the non-inferiority of frozen sperm,” said Dr. Cherouveim.

Ovarian stimulation pre-treatment as a little setback

The study assessed various outcomes of IUI treatments using fresh and frozen sperm, including a positive pregnancy test (hCG), clinical pregnancy, and miscarriage rate. On top of that, the type of ovarian stimulation that women received or not received before the IUI treatment was also included in the study.

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The results unveiled similar pregnancy rates between those using fresh and frozen samples. It should be noted that minor differences occurred in a sub-group of patients receiving ovarian stimulation with oral medications as pre-treatment. These differences disappeared, though, when the study was restricted to the first cycle of the treatment. The only persistent difference appeared to be the longer “time-to-pregnancy” in the frozen sperm group than in the fresh.

“Although, specific subgroups might benefit from fresh sperm utilization and time-to-pregnancy might be shorter with fresh than frozen sperm, patients should be counseled about the non-inferiority of frozen sperm. No detrimental effect of sperm cryopreservation on IUI outcomes was noted,” Dr. Cherouveim commented.

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The majority of the frozen samples used in the study are from an anonymous donor, which is prevalently practiced in most fertility centers, Dr. Cherouveim added.

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“Quarantine and screening requirements are in line with safety principles and are in place to protect patients. The upside of their implementation far outweighs any downsides,” he said.

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