This consists of freezing the sperm in liquid nitrogen, where it is stored at -196º, maintaining its fertility capacity over a period of many years. Men who are going to undergo surgery, or medical or radiotherapy treatments which can affect spermatozoid production would benefit from freezing their semen.
The current Assisted Reproduction Law in Spain establishes the legal framework in which this technique is carried out. The patient, and only the patient, can decide on the use of the frozen sperm.
The therapeutic progresses in Oncology have dramatically increased survival rates. Over 5% of cancer illnesses affect patients under 35 years old, and although treatments can result in full recovery in many cases, it may sometimes leave side effects involving the loss of fertility due to the toxicity of the medicines taken.
Again, in most men, spermatozoids will disappear 2-3 months after starting chemotherapy. Although the patient can recover, depending on the medicines, doses and on the treatment duration and his own personal strength, permanent side effects usually occur.
In cases where spermatozoid production restarts, the level of production is normally reduced as a consequence of the alterations caused by radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Therefore, we recommend the freezing of sperm before starting a course of chemotherapy, even though the formation of spermatozoids could be re-established.
Patients suffering from cancer do not usually know about these side effects, and, logically, give priority to vital diagnosis rather than to the possible after-effects arising from the treatment. Therefore, the medical team treating theses patients is responsible for informing the patient about the side effects and the benefit of freezing sperm before starting the treatments concerned.