After the sperm retrieval is performed, an andrologist will warm the sperm up in an incubator and will view a droplet of the specimen to check for viable sperm. If viable sperm are visualized right away (alive and moving forward), the tissue will be cryopreserved immediately for long-term storage. At family request, non-moving sperm can also be cryopreserved.
Once the sperm has been cryopreserved, it will be moved to a long-term storage tank. Long-term generally means more than one month’s time. The cryopreserved sperm will be immersed in liquid nitrogen (around -200 degrees C) in a storage tank. The tank’s liquid nitrogen level is constantly monitored. The tank resides in a storage vault locked behind both a key and biometric lock. This specimen can be kept in this manner for 40 years or more.
Typically, out of respect, the spouse or partner must be allowed to grieve in accordance with the directives of a responsible practitioner before the tissues can be removed from the CryoBank. This may seem excessive, but it is with the significant other’s best interest in mind. The idea is to assist the significant other by not allowing major life-altering decisions while under the influence of grief. The grief period is typically one full year’s time from the extraction and/or after being cleared by a mental health practitioner. It may be modified for women 38 years of age or older with appropriate counseling.
PMSR Network highly encourages all family members to seek counsel from a mental health practitioner in any stage or any time post-mortem. See a list of our recommended therapists and psychologists here.
Using the Sperm
Once the significant other has observed the grieving period and/or been cleared by a mental health practitioner, the significant other may transfer the cryopreserved specimen out of the CryoBank.
The specimen may then be transferred to another long-term cryobank for long-term storage (though Family Fertility CryoBank is priced very competitively and is world-class) or moved to an IVF center for use.
Extracted sperm is a mix of tissue and sperm, therefore it may only be used through in-vitro fertilization (IVF) in conjunction with intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). The low concentration of sperm and high concentration of tissue and other cells makes sperm extracted from the testicles (which is how the sperm is extracted in a PMSR procedure) are incompatible with artificial insemination procedures like intra-uterine insemination (IUI) or intra-cervical or intra-vaginal insemination (ICI).