Men are rushing to freeze their sperm amid the coronavirus pandemic, clinics claim – despite no concrete evidence that the virus will hurt male fertility.
Sales of CryoChoice’s at-home sperm collection kits have spiked by as much as 20 percent in the last few weeks, their operations manager Heather Kilpatrick told the Daily Beast.
So far, there’s no evidence to suggest that coronavirus damages sperm or male fertility.
But that’s not stopping American men from flocking to sperm banks with mail-in collection services in a bid to save their seeds.
There is no evidence that coronavirus can lead to male infertility – but American men are nevertheless rushing to purchase at-home collection kits to have their sperm frozen
CryoChoice has ‘seen a lot of inquiries come in from people scared about coronavirus,’ Kilpatrick told the Daily Beast.
Other companies have reported exponential increases of kits that allow men to collect their own sperm at home and ship it back to clinics for cryogenic preservation.
And they’re stocking up on long-term storage space, too, according to male fertility start-up Dadi’s correspondence with the Daily Beast.
Much about coronavirus remains shrouded in mystery: how many Americans have actually been infected, whether people can be re-infected, what the virus’s long-term health effects are – and how it impacts fertility falls under that umbrella.
It’s far too soon since the emergence of coronavirus in China in December to know for sure what the virus might do to sperm.
In fact, there is a near total lack of research on fertility and COVID-19.
Scientists have, however, investigated whether the virus might be passed through sex.
A study conducted at Nanjing Medical University in China – which was published as a preprint online but has not yet been peer-reviewed – examined the testicles and semen of 13 coronavirus patients, including 12 in recovery and one who died.
Despite confirmation that the men, all of whom were between ages 22 and 38, aside from the patient who died (aged 67), were infected with coronavirus, none of their semen or testicular tissues were positive for the virus.
As a result, the authors of the small study concluded that there is no reason to believe that coronavirus can be sexually transmitted.
They did not address if or how the men’s sperm were affected by their infection.
The spike protein on the surface of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, matches up to receptors on lung tissue particularly well, which is why it aggressively attacks the respiratory system.
A fever may impair sperm production (green), lead to unhealthy sperm (dashed red) and make sperm less mobile (dashed gray), but the effects are short-lived, a graph from French study published in the journal Fertility and Sterility shows
It can also attach to receptors on blood vessel cells, but there isn’t evidence, so far, that the virus seeks out and attacks sperm, semen or the testicles.
So why would men worry?
While the virus itself is unlikely to damage semen, there’s some evidence to suggest that one of its primary symptoms – fever – might.
Sperm thrive at the normal resting body temperature of 98.6 degrees F and are rather delicate when it comes to thermodynamics.
Even relatively minor temperature changes can affect sperm production and how well sperm can move, an important measure of their ability reach and fertilize an egg.
Research has shown that fever drives down sperm production and motility (how mobile sperm are), and linked this to infections like the flu.
‘High fever is known to inhibit sperm production, but men have germ cells that cake new sperm every day,’ so getting ill during a sperm production cycle is not a major issue, says Dr James Grifo, an NYU Langone fertility specialist.
‘For men urgently in treatment for fertility, ever might be an issue,’ he added in an interview with DailyMail.com.
But it’s a short term disruption.
He says that the longest sperm production might be disrupted would be 90 day, but that’s at the far outside bound.
‘we get exposed to febrile illnesses all the time,’ Dr Grifo says. ‘If that were our main motiviation to freeze sperm, we should’ve all done it when we were 20 and had not had many fevers.’
In general, most viral illnesses – including flu and COVID-19 alike – don’t lead to infertility.
So there isn’t a medical reason for men to worry they need to freeze their sperm amid the pandemic – though Dr Grifo expects the personal ones that may arise.
‘People are considering doing this now in the middle of a pandemic the likes of which none of us in our lifetimes have ever seen, [because] when we’re forced to sit in a room and think about life, our life goals and bucket lists come up and you think about the things you have and haven’t done and, for a lot of men, that includes thoughts about fertility,’ he said.
Still, he says that he wouldn’t ‘particularly’ advise his clients to freeze their sperm now, ‘because I don’t know that it’s really necessary.’
CryoChoice and Dadi had not responded to DailyMail.com’s request for comment at time of publication.
Source: Daily Mail | Health News