The Andrology Laboratory of the OB/GYN Department of the University of North Carolina offers storage of semen for patients who are planning to undergo procedures which may result in sterility or who wish to do so electively. Some information regarding our program can be provided in advance which will make the process easier for patients faced with this decision.
First, the patient must be able to collect semen by masturbation into a sterile specimen cup. This can be done in a special room at the medical center or at a local home or hotel (in which case we will give more specific instructions for delivery of the specimen). An effort will be made to accommodate each individual, so please make necessary special arrangements through the lab.
Examination of the Specimen
The andrology laboratory personnel will explain the semen analysis, and current assisted reproductive technologies. Some illnesses can cause temporary or permanent alterations in sperm numbers, sperm motility, or accessory gland function. The patient can view the specimen under a teaching microscope while the lab technologist describes what is known about freezing success, probability of pregnancy, etc. The final decision is ultimately based on the wishes of the patient in most cases. A family member, spouse, or friend is welcome to accompany the patient.
Semen and cryoprotectant is placed in small plastic vials and stored in a liquid nitrogen "bank". The laboratory sets no limit on the number of vials that a patient may store. Some sperm can retain viability after more than 10 years in storage, but others are not viable after only a few days. We are not able to predict an individual outcome effectively. A Specimen Storage Agreement that describes the basic conditions for providing this service will be signed by both the patient and the Andrology Laboratory personnel. The clinic is pleased to report many successful pregnancies from semen stored in this program.
Initial fee charged for educational discussion, setting up files, and materials for a new patient. This is a one-time charge and only goes into effect if the patient chooses to freeze his specimen after the Semen Analysis.
An annual storage fee must be paid for the initial year or part thereof. Thereafter, the amount is due annually. The storage year runs from January 1 through December 31. It is the patient's responsibility to keep the lab informed of their current address in order for the patient to receive billing. Failure to pay the annual storage fee will result in the specimens being discarded. This fee covers all specimens stored regardless of the number.
Full payment is due at the time of service. Any relevant referrals indicating amount of co-payment or complete coverage must be presented at time of service. For initial billing concerns, call our financial counselor at 919-908-0003.
Future Use of the Specimens
A "Release From Storage" form will be provided when the patient is ready to use the specimens. Physicians of the OB-GYN Department will provide patient care, or the specimens can be shipped to another physician or clinic at the patient's expense. We strongly encourage each patient to select a physician who is experienced at artificial insemination and can offer current technological services.
New procedures are available which can maximize the opportunity to achieve a pregnancy with sperm samples that have reduced numbers, motility, or quality, which may reduce the likelihood of success with simple insemination. The physicians and staff of the OB-GYN Department are able to offer these procedures and will discuss them with the patient if desired.
The following costs are rough estimates and are only offered as an introduction to the financial considerations to be taken into account when planning for the possibility of storing sperm. A simple washed intrauterine insemination of a woman costs approximately $325 to $455 per cycle. Additional costs could be incurred if the woman experiences any fertility problems. If a "test tube baby" (in vitro fertilization) is necessary, one cycle costs approximately $10,000 - $12,000 at our institution. In cases of poor sperm quality, direct sperm injection into the egg costs approximately $2,000.00 over the costs of IVF. The decision to store sperm for later use can be a difficult and expensive one. We hope that this summation will help the patient planning.
It is very important to consider this service as soon as possible when a therapy program is decided so that the patient may have the opportunity to store multiple specimens. Scheduled appointments are necessary. The number to call and schedule an appoint is 919-908-0000. We try to accommodate the patient's schedule as much as possible. Appointments are available between 8:30 am and 3:00 pm weekdays.