Infertility is a stressful experience for many couples, a situation made particularly difficult by the need to produce a semen sample in a clinical setting.
We set out to identify and develop a system that allows semen specimens to remain viable through a short transport cycle and to retain adequate viability prior to cryopreservation at our sperm bank.
Twenty-two samples were subjected to preliminary testing to optimize transport media, temperatures, and most ideal kit constructions. Once the appropriate kit components were formalized, nine additional samples were subjected to overnight shipment and analyzed for motility, count and viability on the basis of normal semen analysis according to the World Health Organization guidelines.
We standardized the transport media used in the kit (called the NextGenSM Home Banking Kit) as well as the proper cooling components necessary during overnight transportation that could take up to 24 hours and mimic a temperature of 37° C.
Results were compared to determine the sustainability of media and establish an optimized cooling environment. Semen samples were analyzed before treatment (0 hour) to establish a baseline on which to compare the overnight shipping (24h). Average pre-shipment total motile sperm (TMS) was 59.46 million. The percent recovery of TMS was 41.28%. Sperm motility and viability showed a decrease of approximately 50% during in vitro incubation via overnight shipment.
This decrease was consistent with the percentage change in motility seen in samples collected on site. Overnight shipment of sperm in transport media in the kit preserves sperm motility and viability for securing future fertility. More information can be obtained about the NextGenSM program by visiting clevelandclinic.org/nextgen.
The authors are affiliated with the Cleveland Clinic’s Glickman Urological and Kidney Institute.