Sunday, April 01, 2012

New option for sperm banks: DIY sperm collection kit

Considering the dust-up over the urine sample taken for NL MVP Ryan Braun and the storage of it over a weekend at the house of a trained collector, the question has to be asked: do you think that sperm could survive transportation by FedEx or UPS?

That's the question that has to be arising now that the Cleveland Clinic has released, earlier this week, its “NextGen” do-it-yourself sperm banking kit. Customers collect the sample themselves and then send the kit back with the enclosed swimmers.

Customers simply call the Cleveland Clinic and request a kit. The kit is sent, consisting of a specimen cup, sperm preservation media, ice packs, and a return shipping label. The media is stored in the refrigerator and the ice packs in the freezer until the kit is used.

Sorry men, the clinic does not send any stimulating media to help you ejaculate. You have to supply your own porn.

After the man ejaculates into a specimen cup, he adds in the media, which is a sort of "food" for the sperm, packs the box with the sample and the ice packs, and ships it. According to Ashok Agarwal, director of the Cleveland Clinic’s andrology laboratory and sperm bank, there is virtually no difference in sperm quality between locally collected and shipped samples.

The Cleveland Clinic’s program charges $689 for the first banked sample, including the first year of storage, and an annual storage fee of $140 thereafter.

Meanwhile, the andrology lab at the University of Illinois at Chicago offers a similar DIY sperm banking kit, which it calls "OverNite Male"  (kind of a snarky name, one has to admit). The service works similarly, and costs $50 for the kit, $150 for cryopreservation, and $275 per year for storage.

Indeed, UPS and FedEx must be treating those samples better than they do some Samsung monitors.

It's not clear if this is a solution looking for a problem. As Dr. Robert Oates, professor of urology at Boston University and president of the Society for Male Reproduction and Urology said, "Practically every city has sperm banks."

This could be something usable for those in very rural areas, though. Still, Dr. Cappy Rothman, the co-founder of the world’s largest sperm bank, California Cryobank, isn't so sure. He said that

"It would be more prudent for anybody having difficulty finding a sperm bank to go through an IVF center and have the specimen processed [frozen], and sent to the sperm bank of their choice."

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