Is there a way of keeping sperm alive long enough post them to a friend?
February 10, 2019 11:29 AM   Subscribe

So... I'm not trying to be nasty, but please don't tell me about how using a friend as a sperm donor is a bad idea or the complications with it... Google has already tried to do that several times (more inside/in extended explanation).

I've researched these tings a lot, but what I can't find out is how to preserve sperm at home/with a kit long enough to make it possible to send them in the post, even on next day delivery (as me and him live in the UK and we live quite far away from each other).

Does anyone have any knowledge of this or could point me in the right direction?
posted by sockpim to Science & Nature (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If you're hoping for an at-home insemination, there is a chemical that can be mixed with the semen so that it can last longer than a few hours. However, the likelihood that it will damage the specimen is high.

If your friend is working with a fertility specialist they can work with a fertility specialist near you to facilitate an overnight shipping.
posted by k8t at 11:35 AM on February 10

Here is one such kit.
posted by k8t at 11:39 AM on February 10

Not working with a fertility specialist, just want to be able to send sperm ourselves or using some kind of delivery service. Thanks for the link, but we're in the UK.
posted by sockpim at 11:44 AM on February 10

There doesn't seem to be a kit that can help you in this case. Your best bet is to visit a cryo freezing facility and let them freeze and ship the sperm for you.
posted by sewbee at 11:48 AM on February 10 [2 favorites]

This documentary depicts steps in the collection and transportation of bull semen, involving liquid nitrogen (about 3/4 of the way through the video iirc?). That's in Germany but maybe if there are similar small contractors for that specialty in the UK, you could persuade one to take on your (e)mission?
posted by XMLicious at 12:01 PM on February 10

Here is some UK-specific forum discussion about at-home insemination (this is the phrase you're looking for).
I didn't dig deep into mumsnet but I suspect that if the female presenting person involved in this wanted to find out more, this would be the place to go.

At-home insemination discussions like this one are most likely to occur in LGBTQ+ forums in my experience. Moreover there are lots of techniques that you all will want to read up on like soft cup versus pipette.
posted by k8t at 12:11 PM on February 10

The best way to preserve semen is in the body of the producer- is it possible to arrange a visit? It might end up cheaper than the other methods.
posted by freethefeet at 12:12 PM on February 10 [31 favorites]

10% success rate for at home insemination for healthy participants but I'd assume many of these don't involve shipping.

But here's a UK kit.

Seems to me it would be cheaper and easier to travel in the ovulation period.
posted by k8t at 12:18 PM on February 10 [3 favorites]

Meet in the middle? Unless Shetland/Brighton ;)
posted by PistachioRoux at 12:53 PM on February 10

Yes, shipping kits with test-yolk buffer solution, like the ones linked above; I don’t have personal experience and I’m not sure what the success rate is, but it definitely can work.
posted by songs about trains at 2:39 PM on February 10

Liquid nitrogen, not the part I'd want to deal with at home. I have no idea how you'd ensure it remained at the optimal temp, rewarming procedure, etc. I suggest making monthly visits to your friend. It's a pain but... maybe you'll be lucky. I got pregnant on my second try with home insemination.
posted by latkes at 5:58 PM on February 10 [3 favorites]

Based on my research? Absolutely no chance. And if you did by some freakish chance manage to solve the practical/technological challenges, it would almost definitely be more expensive than a plane ticket, and by the time you inserted it, there would be almost no time left on the clock for it to meet the egg while still alive, and the timing would have to be 100% precise. I'd say with 99.9% sureness that it's a fool's errand. Get a plane ticket.
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 9:42 PM on February 10 [4 favorites]

US here, did IVF got frozen semen through the mail (not actually trying to freeze it) through a spern bank. It cost around 250 US dollars to JUST TO SHIP. This was after purchase and general storage fees.

We ended up storing at home in our own tank that we bought to reduce these shipping and storage costs.
We had to drive it to and from appointments and to be filled. There is a risk if oxygen displacement when traveling with liquid nitrogen . I think our portible trank cost around 100USD but it may have been more. IVF scews with your perception of money.

There was more of a risk of temperature fluctuations than using a commerical service, but we have a baby so that worked for us.

This required 1)a liquid nitrogen tank 2)refilling on appropriate intervals 3) finding a supplier of liquid nitrogen.

I'm not sure it's possible to preserve from home. There were tons of risks of failure from the 750USD per vial from a verfied sperm bank. Your best bet and hassle free is to travel .
posted by AlexiaSky at 12:46 AM on February 11 [3 favorites]

So I stand corrected:by my spouse our tank cost around 400. Filling it cost around 50. We ended up getting one because she didn't ovulate when expected and we didn't want the sperm plus shipping to just go bad (we ended up needing IVF for fertility reasons anyway).

Her assessment is that it was ultimately cheaper to go through a doctor. It was great backup for the unknown (at the time) fertility problems we ended up facing and likely saved us a little because losing a vial was about a 1000 dollar loss. We tried at home for a year prior to IVF (our insurance wouldn't cover it otherwise). I'm pretty sure our tank wasn't shippable either. We never needed that. In addition our donor sperm was limited and we risked running out and needing a new donor.

I get why you want to do this, and having a known donor can be a great thing. And having a known donor can cut down massively on these costs even if you traveled once a month to them. As medical pricing varies so dramatically between the US and other countries these costs may not apply to you.
posted by AlexiaSky at 7:49 AM on February 11

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