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  • Freezing and Storage of Sperm for Fertility Preservation Leaflet

    Freezing and Storage of Sperm for Fertility Preservation

    The leaflet is detailed below, or you can download the 'Freezing and Storage of Sperm for Fertility Preservation' leaflet in PDF.

    Why is sperm stored?

    Some forms of chemotherapy, radiotherapy, surgery, and hormone therapy can lead to

    infertility which may be temporary or permanent. Therefore, fertility preservation is particularly important for patients undergoing cancer treatment. Before any of these procedures are carried out, it is possible to store sperm using a freezing process known as cryopreservation.

    Frozen sperm samples can be thawed if/when required and used in procedures such as artificial insemination (IUI), in vitro fertilisation (IVF) or intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).

    How does cancer treatment affect fertility?

    Cancer treatments are important for your future health, but they may harm the reproductive organs and glands that control fertility. These changes to your fertility may be temporary or permanent. It is difficult to predict if the cancer treatment will affect your fertility. Whether or not your fertility is affected depends on factors such as:

    • baseline fertility
    • age at the time of treatment
    • type of cancer and type treatment you receive
    • other personal health factors

    Your doctor will be able to talk with you about whether your cancer treatment is likely to

    lower your fertility or cause permanent infertility. Your doctor can then refer you to the Andrology Team at The Hewitt Fertility Centre to have your sperm stored.

    I would like to store my sperm for future use, what happens next?

    Once referred, The Andrology Team at The Hewitt Fertility Centre will telephone you to arrange an appointment date and time to visit the centre and store your sperm. The appointment/s made will be before your cancer treatment is due to begin.

    Firstly, you will have a consultation with a Reproductive Scientist to discuss the implications of storing your sperm and complete the relevant consent forms. You will be asked questions with regards to the storage and use of stored samples. It may be useful before your appointment to consider, if you have a partner, whether you would like them to be able to use your stored samples. Also, at this appointment, you will have the opportunity to ask any questions you might have. Next, you will be asked to produce a semen sample through masturbation. The centre has private, specially designed, soundproof production rooms available for you produce your sample in. In some circumstances, it may be possible to produce your sample at home, provided it is delivered to the centre within one hour of production. Finally, you will have a blood test to screen for HIV, Hepatitis B & C. This is for sperm storage purposes as there is a theoretical risk of viral cross-contamination between samples.

    What happens to my sperm once I’ve produced a sample?

    Once you have produced your sample, it will undergo a semen analysis test to quantify the

    quality of the sample. Your sample will then have cryoprotectant added (a liquid media that prevents damage to sperm cells during freezing) before being transferred into a number of sperm straws. The straws are gradually cooled to -196°C. Once cooled, your sample will be placed into special containers called dewars, where they will be kept in liquid nitrogen or liquid nitrogen vapour, until you potentially require them for fertility treatment.

    Have I produced enough sperm and what is its quality like?

    The Andrology Team at The Hewitt Fertility Centre will ensure that enough of your sperm will be frozen for future fertility treatments. This may involve attending the centre up to two further times. We will know whether further appointments will be needed after you have produced your first sample and will arrange this with you. This is of course dependent upon when your treatment is due to start. If your sample is unsuitable for storage, you can discuss your options and next steps with your clinician. You are welcome to use our counselling service if you wish to do so.

    How successful is the use of frozen sperm?

    Success does depend on the quality of the sperm stored. Frozen samples with reduced numbers of sperm or high rates of sperm abnormality are less likely to be successful in treatment. There is always a small reduction in sperm quality due to the freeze-thaw process. We cannot guarantee any samples frozen will achieve a pregnancy.

    What are the legal implications for storing sperm?

    All fertility centres are under the regulation of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA). Prior to freezing and storing sperm, it is a legal requirement that you give written consent concerning;

    • Storage of your sperm and the length to which it is stored for
    • The circumstances to which your sperm can be used in the future (you may have a partner with whom you wish to have a family with named on your form)
    • Your decision over any embryos created using your sperm
    • What happens to your frozen sperm in the event of your death or incapacitation
    • What will happen if your sperm is not used

    You are free to withdraw or vary the terms of your consent at any time. You should be aware that in the event of your death, you can have your name registered as the parent of any child or children born because of using your sperm, provided you have consented to this in writing. If your circumstances change, for instance you move address, change telephone number, or separate from your partner at the time of storage, it is vitally important that you make the Hewitt Fertility Centre aware of these changes immediately.

    How long can sperm be stored?

    The legal period for storing sperm is 55 years according to the HFEA. However, crucially, for storage to lawfully continue you will need to renew your consent every 10 years. Stored sperm can only be used by the person providing the sperm, or together with their partner, it cannot be donated to treat others. It is unlawful to store sperm beyond the period to which you consent, and The Hewitt Fertility Centre has a legal obligation to dispose of your sample once consent has expired.

    Can I test my fertility once my cancer treatment has finished?

    Six months after your cancer treatment has ended, you can contact the centre to arrange for a semen analysis test, along with a follow-up consultation to see a fertility specialist. Here, we will discuss whether your sperm function has returned and your available fertility options in the future. There is currently no evidence that children conceived naturally of a parent who has had cancer treatment will have an increased risk of abnormalities.

    Do I have to pay for freezing & storing my sperm?

    If you will be undergoing cancer treatment where there is a possibility of it affecting your fertility, funding for the freezing and storage of sperm is typically provided by the NHS for 10 years. This is dependent upon which NHS Integrated Care Board you fall under and what specific criteria they have set for funding sperm storage. When you are referred for fertility preservation, this will be assessed. When NHS funding for storage ends, you will be contacted by The Hewitt Fertility Centre to ask whether you wish to continue storage. Continued storage after this period, will incur an annual fee.

    Will future fertility treatment be available on the NHS?

    After your cancer treatment, if you require fertility treatment to achieve a pregnancy, your GP will have to refer you to a fertility centre.

    Your Integrated Care Board (ICB) will then make an assessment as to whether you and your partner meet the eligibility criteria they have set for NHS funding. If you do not meet these criteria, fertility treatment will have to be self-funded.

     Safety & Quality

    We promise to look after your sperm as carefully as possible but we cannot be held responsible for its safety or the risk of the loss of sperm due to equipment failure. In addition, we cannot guarantee your sperm will survive the freeze-thaw process or that a successful pregnancy will result from its use.

    The Lewis-Jones Andrology Department at the Hewitt Fertility Centre has provided a dedicated Andrology service for over 30 years. We are attached to the Hewitt Fertility Centre HFEA licensed centre 0007) and can provide all fertility treatments potentially required in the future. We also have a centre at Knutsford (Centre number 0344) where the same care can be provided if more convenient and appropriate.

    I am under 16 years old, can I have my sperm stored?

    If you are under 16, you will be assessed for Gillick competence to ensure that you have capacity to understand and consent to having your sample stored. You would produce your sample through masturbation. Counselling is available to help support you and your family during this time.

     How can I contact the unit?

    Please feel free to contact the laboratory on 0151 702 4214 or email lwft.andrologylab@nhs.net if you require any further information about fertility preservation.

    You must keep us informed of any change in your circumstances e.g. change of address. This is because we will contact you every three years to see if you still want your sperm to be stored. If we are unable to contact you, your samples will be destroyed when they reach the end of their statutory storage period. If you have any questions on sperm storage, please contact the unit and ask to speak to a member of the Andrology team.

    This leaflet can be made available in different formats on request. If you would like to make any suggestions or comments about the content of this leaflet, then please contact the Patient Experience Team on 0151 702 4353 or by email at pals@lwh.nhs.uk

    Document Code: P-INFO-FP-3

    Version No: 7

     

    Document Title: Freezing and Storage of Sperm for Fertility Preservation

    Date of issue: 03.11.2023

    Date of review: 03.11.2025

    Owner: H Newby

    Author:  A Allan

     

     

  • Freezing and Storage of Sperm Prior to Fertility Treatment Leaflet

    Freezing and Storage of Sperm Prior to Fertility Treatment

    The leaflet is detailed below, or you can download the 'Freezing and Storage of Sperm Prior to Fertility Treatment' leaflet in PDF.

    Why is my sperm sample being frozen?

    Sperm freezing, also known as sperm cryopreservation, is typically offered for the following reasons;

    • Retrograde ejaculation, where the sperm is passed into the bladder instead of passing out through the urethra.
    • If you have difficulty with or concerns about producing a sperm sample on the day of treatment.
    • If the quality of your sperm sample is such that we have concerns that there may not be an adequate number of sperm to perform your ICSI treatment on the day of egg collection.
    • Social reasons. For instance, not being available when your semen sample will be required during fertility treatment.
    • Fertility Preservation (see separate patient information leaflet)

    The Hewitt Fertility Centre will want to make sure we have sperm to use when fertility treatment starts. Frozen sperm samples can be thawed when required and used in procedures such as artificial insemination (IUI), in vitro fertilisation (IVF) or intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). Freezing your semen sample before fertility treatment will help maximise the chance of this being the case.

    I’ve been asked to freeze my sperm, what happens next?

    If your doctor has recommended sperm freezing, you will first have a blood test where we screen for HIV, Hepatitis B & C. This is for sperm storage purposes as there is a theoretical risk of viral cross-contamination between samples.

    Once the results of the blood test become available, The Andrology Team at Hewitt Fertility Centre will then telephone you to arrange an appointment date and time to visit the centre and store your sperm. The appointment made will be before further treatment is due to begin (IVF,ICSI or IUI treatment).

    On your sperm freeze appointment date, you will first have a consultation with a Reproductive Scientist to discuss the implications of storing your sperm and complete the relevant consent forms. You will be asked questions with regards to the storage and use of stored samples. At this appointment, you will have the opportunity to ask any questions you might have.

    Next, you will be asked to produce a semen sample through masturbation. The centre has private, specially designed, soundproof production rooms available for you produce your sample in. In some circumstances, it may be possible to produce your sample at home, provided it is delivered to the centre within one hour of production.

    What happens to my sperm once I’ve produced a sample?

    Once you have produced your sample, it will undergo a semen analysis test to quantify the quality of the sample. Your sample will then have cryoprotectant added (a liquid media that prevents damage to sperm cells during freezing) before being transferred into a number of ‘sperm straws’. The straws are gradually cooled to -196°C. Once cooled, your sample will be placed into special containers called dewars, where they will be kept in liquid nitrogen or liquid nitrogen vapour until you potentially require them for fertility treatment.

    Have I produced enough sperm and what is its quality like?

    The Andrology Team at The Hewitt Fertility Centre will ensure that enough of your sperm will be frozen for future fertility treatment(s). This may involve attending the centre up to two further times. We will know whether further appointments will be needed after you have produced your first sample and will arrange this with you. If your sample is unsuitable for storage, you can discuss your options and next steps with your clinician. You are welcome to use our counselling service if you wish to do so.

    What are the legal implications for storing sperm?

    All fertility centres are under the regulation of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA). Prior to freezing and storing sperm, it is a legal requirement that you give written consent concerning;

    • Storage of your sperm and the length to which it is stored for
    • The circumstances to which your sperm can be used in the future (you may have a partner with whom you wish to have a family named on your form)
    • Your decision over any embryos created using your sperm
    • What happens to your frozen sperm in the event of your death or incapacitation

    You are free to withdraw or vary the terms of your consent at any time. You should be aware that in the event of your death, you can have your name registered as the parent of any child or children born because of using your sperm, provided you have consented to this in writing. If your circumstances change, for instance you move address, change telephone number, or separate from your partner at the time of storage, it is vitally important that you make the Hewitt Fertility Centre aware of these changes immediately.

    How long can sperm be stored?

    The legal period for storing sperm is 55 years according to the HFEA. However, crucially for storage to lawfully continue you will need to renew your consent every 10 years. It is unlawful to store sperm beyond the period to which you consent, and the Hewitt Fertility Centre has a legal obligation to dispose of your sample once consent has expired.

    Do I have to pay for freezing & storing my sperm?

    This is dependent upon which NHS Integrated Care Board you fall under and what specific criteria they have set for funding sperm storage. This will be assessed before you freeze sperm. If you qualify for NHS funding, sperm storage is typically funded by the NHS for 10 years.

    When funding for storage ends, you will be contacted by the Hewitt Fertility Centre to ask whether you wish to continue storage up until the length that you have legally consented for. Continued storage after this period, will incur an annual fee.

    If you do not qualify for NHS funding, sperm freezing and storage incurs a fee.

    How successful is the use of frozen sperm?

    We would expect around 50 to 75% of your frozen sperm sample to survive the thawing procedure. Treatment using frozen sperm has a similar success rate to treatment using fresh sperm. Please note, success rates are partly dependent on sperm quality.

    Safety & Quality

    We promise to look after your sperm as carefully as possible but we cannot be held responsible for its safety or the risk of the loss of sperm due to equipment failure. In addition we cannot guarantee your sperm will survive the freeze-thaw process or that a successful pregnancy will result from its use.

    The Lewis-Jones Andrology Department at the Hewitt Fertility Centre has provided a dedicated Andrology service for over 30 years. We are attached to the Hewitt Fertility Centre HFEA licensed centre 0007) and can provide all fertility treatments potentially required in the future. We also have a centre at Knutsford (Centre number 0344) where the same care can be provided if more convenient and appropriate.

    Contact with the unit

    Please feel free to contact the laboratory on 0151 702 4214 or email lwft.andrologylab@nhs.net if you require any further information about fertility preservation.

    You must keep us informed of any change in your circumstances e.g. change of address. This is because we will contact you every three years to see if you still want your sperm to be stored. If we are unable to contact you, your samples will be destroyed when they reach the end of their statutory storage period. If you have any questions on sperm storage, please contact the unit and ask to speak to a member of the Andrology team.

    Document Code: P-INFO-FP-2

    Version No: 5

     

    Document Title: Freezing and Storage of Sperm Prior to Fertility Treatment

    Date of issue: 15/09/2022

    Date of review: 15/09/2025

    Owner: H Newby

    Author: R Byrne

     

     

  • Egg Freezing for Transgender Patients

    Transgender & Non-Binary Fertility Preservation - Egg Freezing

    The leaflet is detailed below, or you can download the 'Transgender & Non-Binary Fertility Preservation - Egg Freezing' leaflet in PDF.

    Why should I think about fertility preservation?

    Future fertility may be something you are thinking about as a transgender or non-binary person. Understandably, some transgender and non-binary people are keen to start hormone therapy or have surgery as quickly as possible. However, you may find it a source of regret if you realise later that it is not possible, or more difficult, to have a biological family. Thinking through all these issues now and understanding your options will help you to make an informed decision.

    Some medical treatments for gender dysphoria, including hormone therapy and surgery, can have a temporary or permanent impact on your fertility. If you are considering starting treatment to physically alter your body, or you have already started, you can contact us to discuss possible options for preserving your fertility.

    Having genital reconstructive surgery can prevent you from having biological children without the use of a surrogate or interventional fertility treatments. Genital surgery that may be considered includes salpingo-oophorectomy (removal of the fallopian tubes and ovaries) and/or hysterectomy (removal of the womb). How you decide to preserve your fertility would be dependent on your particular situation. You may wish to preserve your fertility by having your eggs frozen or by creating and freezing embryos. If you are interested in embryo freezing, please find more information on this process in our leaflet titled ‘Embryo Freezing and Thawing Patient Information’

    How are eggs collected and stored?

    You will be assessed by a clinician before undergoing fertility preservation treatment, most likely by way of an ultrasound examination. If you are concerned about being examined, please contact the clinic to discuss how we can make this more comfortable for you. You will also need to have blood tests to determine your hormone levels in addition to viral screening (minimum requirement: Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and HIV).

    In the future, you may decide to have IVF treatment using a surrogate and your frozen eggs. For this reason, the clinical team may recommend that you undergo extended screening tests prior to freezing your eggs. If you decide to go ahead with IVF treatment using a surrogate, you may then be required to undergo further extended screening tests at that time; these tests may incur a further cost.

    Fertility drugs are given to stimulate the ovaries to produce several follicles that contain eggs (please see the leaflet “Ovarian Stimulation”). The development of follicles is monitored by vaginal ultrasound scans. When the follicles have reached the right size, the eggs are collected by a practitioner using a needle at the end of the ultrasound probe under direct vision, to remove the fluid within the follicles. The fluid is assessed under a microscope; any eggs present are identified by the embryologist and placed into an incubator until they are frozen. It is important to note that not all the eggs may be suitable for freezing; only mature eggs will be frozen. Regarding the egg freezing process, mature eggs are mixed with cryoprotectant (a solution that protects the eggs from very cold temperatures) and placed on straws before submersion in liquid nitrogen. Egg freezing is a technique that allows long-term egg storage in very cold conditions (-196°C).

    How long can eggs be stored?

    Eggs can be stored for up to 55 years; however the storage period will be renewed every 10 years. You are free to withdraw or vary the terms of your consent at any time.

    I’ve already started my transitioning medication, what are my options?

    If you have already started hormone therapy or you are taking puberty suppressing medication, you will need to discuss your future options with a clinician. They may recommend that you stop taking your medication to increase your chance of having a family through assisted reproduction treatment. We understand that it can be distressing to come off their hormone therapy, so there will be no pressure from the clinic to do this.

    Some transgender and non-binary people may also consider other options for having a family, such as the use of donated eggs, sperm or embryos in treatment or adoption. Done in the right way, using a donor is a safe and increasingly common way of creating a family. If you’re interested, please ask The Hewitt Fertility Centre for further advice and the relevant patient information leaflets.

    What happens when I want to use my frozen eggs?

    The use of your frozen eggs is dependent on your individual situation; this may involve your partner, using a surrogate, using donor sperm or of you have not had your uterus removed, the option of carrying the pregnancy yourself may exist.

    Once you are ready to proceed with treatment, the eggs are removed from storage and thawed. Not all eggs survive the freezing/thawing process. Current data from the Hewitt Fertility Centre shows that 77% of eggs survive the process (this data was collected from patients of all ages between the years 2013 - 2018).

    Suitable eggs are inseminated with sperm using a technique known as Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI). ICSI is required because frozen-thawed eggs no longer have their protective outer cell coating. Conventional IVF cannot be performed, as for this method, the outer cell coating is necessary for sperm to achieve fertilisation.

    What are the success rates?

    Until recently, pregnancy rates from egg freezing procedures were very poor, but scientific advances have now made egg freezing a viable option. However, the data is still limited and as with all fertility treatments, there is no guarantee this procedure will result in a successful pregnancy. It is also important to remember that some cycles may be cancelled prior to embryo transfer due to poor egg survival, failed fertilisation or poor embryo development.

    Are there any risks associated with egg freezing?

    Although current data indicate that there are no increases in birth defects or chromosomal abnormalities in children born from frozen eggs, we still need to monitor this carefully as we collect more data. It is important to note that many healthy babies have been born following egg freezing/thawing; but as this is still a relatively new procedure, there may be some yet unrecognised risks.

    Do I have to pay for freezing & storing my eggs?

    Funding for egg freezing for gender reassignment prior to future IVF/ICSI treatment is dependent upon the NHS clinical commissioning group that you fall under and your specific circumstances. You will need to contact your GP to investigate your funding options. If you are eligible for NHS funded storage, it is important to note that when this is due to end, you will be contacted by The Hewitt Fertility Centre to ask whether you wish to continue storage. Continued storage after this period, will incur an annual fee (approximately £180 per year).

    If you are not pursuing NHS funding for any aspect of your treatment, you can contact the clinic directly for more information on treatment costs.

    Safety & Quality

    We promise to look after your eggs as carefully as possible, but we cannot be held responsible for egg safety or the risk of the loss of eggs due to accident or equipment failure. In addition, we cannot guarantee that your eggs will survive the warming process or that a successful pregnancy will result from their use.

    Contact with the unit

    You must keep us informed of any change in your circumstances e.g. change of address. This is because, we will contact you in the future to see if you still want your eggs to be stored. If we are unable to contact you, your samples will be destroyed when they reach the end of their statutory storage period. If you have any questions on egg storage, please contact the unit and ask to speak to a member of the Embryology team.

     

    Document Code: P-INFO-EF-2

    Version: 2

    Document Title: Transgender & Non-Binary Egg Freezing

    Date of issue: 26/07/22

    Date of review: 26.07.2024

    Owner: R Gregoire

    Author: M McGrane

  • Sperm Freezing for Transgender Patients

    Transgender & Non-Binary Fertility Preservation - Sperm Freezing

    The leaflet is detailed below, or you can download the 'Transgender & Non-Binary Fertility Preservation - Sperm Freezing' leaflet in PDF.

    Why is it a good idea to freeze sperm?

    Future fertility may be something you are thinking about as a transgender or non-binary person. Understandably, some transgender and non-binary people are keen to start hormone therapy or have surgery as quickly as possible. However, you may find it a source of regret if you realise later that it is not possible, or more difficult, to have a biological family. Thinking through all these issues now and understanding your options will help you to make an informed decision. Before any of these procedures are carried out, it is possible to store sperm using a freezing process known as cryopreservation. 

    Some medical treatments for gender dysphoria or incongruence, including hormone therapy and surgery, can have a temporary or permanent impact on your fertility. If you are considering starting treatment to physically alter your body, or you have already started, you can contact us to discuss possible options for preserving your fertility.

    What is the procedure for freezing sperm?

    Once referred, The Hewitt Fertility Centre will telephone you to arrange an appointment to visit the centre and store your sperm. If possible, this appointment should be made before the gender reassignment treatment is due to begin.

    Firstly, you will have a consultation with a member of staff to discuss the implications of storing your sperm and discuss the relevant consent forms. You will be asked questions with regards to the storage and use of stored samples. It may be useful (before your appointment) to consider, if you have a partner, whether you would like them to be able to use your stored samples in the future. At this appointment, you will also have the opportunity to ask any questions.

    In order to store your sperm, you will require a blood test to screen for HIV, Hepatitis B & C; this is a legal requirement due to the theoretical risk of viral cross-contamination between samples.

    You will then be asked to produce a semen sample. The centre has private, specially designed, sound-proof production rooms available in which you can produce your sample. In some circumstances, it may be possible to produce your sample at home, provided it is delivered to the centre within one hour.

    What happens to my sperm once I’ve produced a sample?

    Once you have produced your sample, a semen analysis test will be done to quantify the quality of the sample. If your sample is unsuitable for storage, additional tests may be required to understand why; if this occurs you can discuss your next steps and future options with your clinician.

    Your sample will then have cryoprotectant added (a liquid that prevents damage to sperm cells during freezing) before being stored in a number of sperm straws. The straws are gradually cooled to -196°C. Once cooled, your sample will be placed into special containers called dewars, where they will be kept in liquid nitrogen vapour until you require them for fertility treatment, or no longer need them.

    How many samples will I need to produce?

    On average, three samples will be sufficient to safeguard future fertility options; however, the clinic will guide you on whether you need to produce more or less.

    What are the legal implications for storing sperm?

    All fertility centres fall under the regulation of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA). Prior to freezing and storing sperm, it is a legal requirement that you give written consent concerning;

    • Storage of your sperm and the length to which it is stored for
    • The circumstances to which your sperm can be used in the future (you may have a partner with whom you wish to have a family named on your form)
    • Your decision over any embryos created using your sperm
    • What happens to your frozen sperm in the event of your death or incapacitation
    • What will happen if your sperm is not used

    You should be aware that in the event of your death, you can have your name registered as the parent of any child or children born as a result of using your sperm, provided you have consented to this in writing. If your circumstances change, for instance you move address, change telephone number, or separate from your partner at the time of storage, it is vitally important that you make the Hewitt Fertility Centre aware of these changes immediately. This is because we will contact you to ask if you still want your sperm to be stored. If we are unable to contact you, your samples will be destroyed when they reach the end of their statutory storage period. If you have any questions on sperm storage, please contact the unit and ask to speak to a member of the Andrology team.

    I’ve already started my transitioning medication, what are my options?

    If you have already started hormone therapy or you are taking puberty suppressing medication, you will need to discuss your future options with a clinician. They may recommend that you stop taking your medication to increase your chance of having a family through assisted reproduction treatment. We understand that it can be distressing to come off their hormone therapy, so there will be no pressure from the clinic to do this.

    Some transgender and non-binary people may also consider other options for having a family, such as the use of donated eggs, sperm or embryos in treatment or adoption. Done in the right way, using a donor is a safe and increasingly common way of creating a family. If you’re interested, please ask The Hewitt Fertility Centre for further advice and the relevant patient information leaflets.

    How long can sperm be stored?

    Sperm can be stored for up to 55 years; however, the storage period will be renewed every 10 years. You are free to withdraw or vary the terms of your consent at any time.

    Do I have to pay for freezing & storage of my sperm?

    Sperm freezing funding for gender reassignment is dependent upon the NHS clinical commissioning group that you fall under and your specific circumstances.

    If NHS funding is available for you, when your funded storage period ends, you will be contacted by the Hewitt Fertility Centre to ask whether you wish to continue storage. Continued storage after this period will incur an annual fee (approximately £180 per year)

    In the future, you may decide to have IVF treatment using a surrogate and your frozen sperm. For this reason, the clinical team may recommend that you undergo extended screening tests prior to freezing your sperm. In the future, if you decide to go ahead with this IVF treatment, you may then be required to undergo further extended screening tests at that time; these tests may incur a further cost.

    If you are not pursuing NHS funding for any aspect of your treatment, you can contact the clinic directly for more information on treatment costs.

    What are the risks of sperm freezing?

    It is well established that a number of sperm can either be damaged or do not survive the freezing process. It is also clear that success depends on the quality of the initial sperm sample; frozen samples with reduced numbers of sperm or high rates of sperm abnormalities are less likely to be successful in treatment. However, it must be noted that treatment with frozen sperm is currently just as successful as treatment using fresh sperm (HFEA, 2021).

    Safety & Quality

    We promise to look after your sperm as carefully as possible, but we cannot be held responsible for its safety or the risk of the loss of sperm due to accident or equipment failure. In addition, we cannot guarantee your sperm will survive the freeze-thaw process or that a successful pregnancy will result from its use.

    The Lewis-Jones Andrology Department at the Hewitt Fertility Centre has provided a dedicated Andrology service for over 30 years. We are attached to the Hewitt Fertility Centre HFEA licenced centre 0007) and can provide all fertility treatments potentially required in the future. We also have a centre at Knutsford (Centre number 0344) where the same care can be provided if more convenient and appropriate.

    Contact with the unit

    Please feel free to contact the laboratory on 0151 702 4214 or email lwft.andrologylab@nhs.net if you require any further information about fertility preservation.

     

    Document Code:P-INFO-SPB-2

    Version: 2

    Document Title: Transgender & Non-Binary Sperm Freezing

    Date of issue: 26/07/22

    Date of review: 15.09.2025

    Owner: R Gregoire

    Author: M McGrane

  • Egg Freezing

    Egg Freezing

    The leaflet is detailed below, or you can download the 'Egg Freezing' leaflet in PDF.

    What is egg freezing?

    Egg freezing is a technique that allows long-term egg storage in very cold conditions (-196°C).

    Who can have egg freezing?

    Patients facing medical treatment that may affect their fertility, such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy or surgical removal of the ovaries, may benefit from egg freezing. Also, patients at risk of premature ovarian failure or suffering from endometriosis, cysts and pelvic infections could preserve their fertility by storing their eggs for future use. Egg freezing could also allow individuals to delay having a baby, due to career demands, the lack of partner, or other medical reasons.

    I am under 16 years old, can I have my eggs collected?

    Eggs are not routinely collected and stored for minors unless there is an urgent care need. If you are under 16, you will be assessed to ensure that you have capacity to understand and consent to this procedure. Counselling is available to help support you and your family during this time.

    How are the eggs collected?

    Fertility drugs are given to stimulate the ovaries to produce several follicles; sacs of fluid that hopefully contain eggs (see the leaflet “Ovarian Stimulation”). The development of follicles is monitored by vaginal ultrasound scans. When the follicles have reached the right size, the eggs are collected by a clinician using a needle to remove the fluid within the follicles. This is done with sedation under ultrasound guidance. The fluid is looked at under a microscope and any eggs present are identified by the embryologist and placed in an incubator until they are frozen. Not all eggs are suitable for freezing. Only mature eggs will be frozen.

    How long are eggs stored for?

    Eggs can, in theory, be stored for decades and still be viable after thawing. The maximum legal period for storing eggs is 55 years according to the Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority (HFEA). The HFEA is our governing body responsible for upholding fertility law. Initially, eggs can be stored for 10 years. For storage to lawfully continue after this, you will need to renew your consent every 10 years. A written consent form is required for storing eggs before treatment starts. Consent can be changed or withdrawn at any time before the eggs are used in treatment. Eggs can be donated for training or research purposes if they are no longer wanted for patient treatment. Eggs can only be used for training or research purposes if this option has been selected on the HFEA consent form. Please note, it is unlawful to store eggs beyond the period of consent, and The Hewitt Fertility Centre (HFC) has a legal obligation to dispose of them once consent has expired.

    What happens when I want to use my frozen eggs?

    Frozen eggs can be used in a natural or stimulated frozen embryo transfer cycle. Once you are ready to proceed with treatment, the eggs are removed from storage and thawed. Not all eggs survive the freezing/thawing process. Current data from 2021-2022 at HFC show that 80% of eggs survive the freezing/thawing process for patients of all ages.

    Suitable eggs are inseminated with sperm using a technique known as Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI). ICSI is required to inseminate frozen-thawed eggs because the outer shell (zona-pellucida) surrounding the egg hardens after freezing making sperm entry difficult. ICSI is the only practical way of ensuring a sperm will enter the egg; this is because the injection procedure bypasses the hardened shell. ICSI is also required because frozen-thawed eggs no longer have their protective outer cell coating. Conventional IVF cannot be performed as the outer cell coating is necessary for sperm to achieve fertilisation.

    What are the success rates?

    Until recently, pregnancy rates from egg freezing procedures were very poor, but scientific advances have now made egg freezing a viable option. However, the data is still limited and with all fertility treatments, no clinic can guarantee this procedure will result in a successful pregnancy. The number of people who have used their frozen thawed eggs in treatment at HFC is small which means the dataset cannot be used to give a realistic chance of success. The HFEA reported the live birth rate for people using their own frozen thawed eggs to be 18%. In addition, the live birth rate for people using frozen donor eggs was reported to be 30% (HFEA, 2018).

    Are there any risks associated with egg freezing?

    Frozen eggs are stored in liquid nitrogen, and this presents a theoretical risk of potential cross-contamination between samples in storage. To reduce this theoretical risk, all patients are screened for viral diseases (Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and HIV) and stored appropriately according to viral status. Current data indicate that there is no increase in birth defects or chromosomal abnormalities in children born from frozen eggs, but we need to monitor this carefully (HFEA, 2016). Many healthy babies have been born following egg freezing/thawing; however, this is a relatively new procedure and may yet involve unrecognised risks. We will look after your eggs as carefully as possible, but we cannot be held responsible for loss or damage of eggs due to equipment failure.

    Any other questions?

    If you have any other questions about egg freezing, please speak to a member of the scientific staff.

    References

    HFEA (2016) https://www.hfea.gov.uk/media/2656/egg-freezing-in-fertility-treatment-trends-and-figures-2010-2016-final.pdf

    HFEA (2018) https://www.hfea.gov.uk/about-us/news-and-press-releases/2018/press-release-age-is-the-key-factor-for-egg-freezing-success-says-new-hfea-report-as-overall-treatment-numbers-remain-low/

    Document Code: P-INFO-EF-1

    Version No: 11

    Document Title: Egg Freezing Information

     

    Date of issue: 27.02.2024

    Date of review: 27.02.2027

    Owner: R Lunt

    Author: R Byrne