Frozen sperm is as effective as freshly harvested sperm for insemination, study says

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Freezing semen, also called vitrification, is a male fertility preservation technique. The procedure may be indicated for patients undergoing treatment for diseases such as cancer or surgeries that pose a risk of injury to the testicles.

As it is a relatively recent methodology, with several researches in progress, the maximum period of sperm freezing is considered indeterminate. A study by US researchers found that frozen semen remains as effective as freshly collected material for insemination treatments.

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To arrive at the result, experts from Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School analyzed 5,335 cycles of intrauterine insemination performed between 2004 and 2021 in the hospital’s health service. The data were presented this Monday (4) at the 38th annual meeting of the European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology.

The study looked at a range of outcomes after fertility treatments with fresh or frozen sperm, which included a positive pregnancy test, clinical pregnancy, and miscarriage rate. The study also looked at the type of ovarian stimulation given or not given to women before treatment.

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The results showed similar clinical pregnancy rates among patients who used fresh and frozen samples.

Small differences were observed in a subgroup of patients with ovarian stimulation pretreatment with oral medications (clomiphene citrate or letrozole). However, when the analysis was limited to a first course of treatment, these differences were no longer evident, according to the researchers.

According to the article, the single most significant difference identified was a slightly longer time to pregnancy in the group that used frozen sperm compared to the recent one.

“While specific subgroups may benefit from using fresh sperm and pregnancy time may be shorter with fresh than frozen sperm, patients should be counseled about the non-inferiority of frozen sperm. No detrimental effects of sperm cryopreservation on intrauterine insemination outcomes were observed,” said Panagiotis Cherouveim, a researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard.

fertility preservation

the fertilization in vitrocreated almost 45 years ago, is still a tool available for those who have a greater difficulty with natural pregnancy.

“The sperm sample is prepared in the laboratory and the doctor, with a small probe, places the sperm inside the woman’s uterus, through the cervix. The sperm ‘swim’ inside the uterus and go to the tubes, where they will find the eggs that were produced and will be fertilized”, explains Silvana Chedid Grieco, gynecologist at Hospital Sírio-Libanês, in São Paulo.

Freezing sperm allows for the preservation of fertility for men who want to delay having children or who will undergo treatments that can harm the formation of sperm, such as cancer therapies.

The material is screened for infections before use, which can take up to six months. With the aim of reducing the concern of patients and specialists about the viability of frozen sperm, ongoing research is evaluating the motility, structure and content of DNA.

Gynecologist Natália Ramos Seixas, from the women’s health clinic Oya Care, explains that egg freezing, a method used by women who wish to postpone motherhood, is safe and effective and is no longer considered experimental.

“Studies provide scientific evidence that for ten years these eggs remain healthy but, in practice, they remain healthy ‘ad aeternum‘. Freezing is an old technique, used in the beginning. Today, we call egg vitrification, a quick freeze. The studies will be published over the next few decades, but with clinical practice we are realizing that these eggs do not age”, says Natália.

According to the expert, in addition to allowing the postponement of maternity, the procedure reduces the risk of genetic diseases.

Source: CNN Brasil

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