By Leslie Schreiber
For years, women have had to endure the societal stress between opting for careers or having children. With the advent of egg cryopreservation, women no longer have to choose one over the other. Men, it would seem, never have had to make that difficult decision.
However, men, too, face a biological clock. Sperm motility decreases as men age, making it more difficult to father children. In addition, there are a host of other factors that can contribute to lower motility or even sterility, including cancer treatments, prostate or testicular surgery, or ejaculatory dysfunction. Exposure to radiation, chemicals or extreme heat can also cause sterility. According to a report from the Mayo Clinic, older sperm may contribute to birth defects and miscarriages.
Like women and egg freezing, men can opt for cryopreservation to store their younger, healthier sperm in order to have children later in life. Sperm cryopreservation (or “sperm banking”) has actually been around for over 60 years; the first successful pregnancy resulting from frozen sperm was reported in 1953. Sperm freezing now helps men who “would otherwise be sterile to reproduce.” Moreover, sperm cryopreservation also aids in in vitro fertilization when the male partner is unavailable, and to prevent the possible transmission of diseases like the Zika virus prior to travel to affected geographical regions.
And like egg cryopreservation, sperm freezing is susceptible to legal and ethical abuses. The use of post-mortem sperm retrieval (PMSR) raises a host of questions regarding informed consent. While there is no overarching set of guidelines, medical facilities engaged in sperm cryopreservation should require in-depth protocols and questionnaires to ensure that men’s wishes regarding the post-mortem disposition of their sperm are met.
If you are contemplating freezing your sperm for any reason, you should consult with a reproductive law specialist to make sure your rights are protected.
 Nippoldt, T., M.D., “How Does Paternal Age Affect a Baby’s Health?”, https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/getting-pregnant/expert-answers/paternal-age/faq-20057873.
 Feinberg, E., M.D., “Advances in Cryopreservation: We Are Not Frozen in Time,” Fertility and Sterility, https://www.fertstertdialog.com/users/16110-fertility-and-sterility/posts/19129-24695.
 Gholipour, B., “Making Babies After Death: It’s Possible, But Is It Ethical?”, https://www.livescience.com/37335-postmortem-sperm-ethics.html.