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Houston Fertility Center

Leftover Sperm: Too Much of a Good Thing?

By Sonja Kristiansen, MD on May 20, 2008

In some ways, Canada's a lot like the States. Their "rules" about reproductive medicine are almost as wide open as here in the U.S. -- so far. In this article from The Canadian Press, fertility specialists discuss the increasing problem of "abandoned" frozen sperm.

The freezing of sperm cells is now a fine-tuned technology. Much of the credit for that goes directly to the little cells themselves, of course: sperm cells are simply built in a way that helps them survive the freeze-thaw process and come out intact enough to fertilize an egg. Eggs, on the other hand, have proven trickier to get through that journey for later use, but we're far better at it recently than ever before (thanks mostly to the Italians, who were given few choices by their intervening government!)

Sperm cells that were frozen for nearly 30 years have been successfully thawed and used with IVF to result in healthy babies. We haven't been freezing eggs that long yet, so there are some unanswered questions on the female side of delayed conception.

Men who froze semen samples in the past don't always come forward later to use their sperm. So now, some cryopreservation facilities are finding themselves with forgotten stock. So many years have gone by now, these older labs are literally running out of storage room. The technicians and administrators find themselves in a bit of an ethical and pragmatic dilemma. This article points to Health Canada, the country's Federal department in charge of health care, as being in the process of creating some related guidelines.

It will be interesting to see how Canada deals with the problem.

Also interesting -- the article notes that frozen eggs are typically not abandoned, and says a possible reason may be the far different procedures that are required to acquire sperm versus egg cells.

 

The Canadian Press: Sperm banks seek men who have forgotten 'little swimmers'

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