ESSM: A New Hope for Fertility

One of the tests that we do here at Maze Health is an Extended Sperm Search and Microfreeze, also known as ESSM. ESSM involves taking an ejaculate sample and performing a thorough search (usually about 6-8 hours). This groundbreaking lab test is performed by dividing the entire semen sample into 5 micro-liter droplets and carefully scanning the drops under a high-powered microscope. Any sperm located are placed on a specialized device, called SpermVD, and cryopreserved for use in intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI-IVF).

We were just featured in the New York Times for an exciting case that we had, where a trans woman had been on hormones for 18 years and no one had been able to find sperm in the ejaculate. The day before she went for her final surgery, a vaginoplasty, and we actually found sperm in the ejaculate. We were able to freeze them, and since she is with a woman, they will then hopefully be able to go on and have biological children together. It was an exciting development. 

Previous to this, the longest they ever found sperm, not using this technique, after the woman had started on hormones to transition, was 2 years. We found sperm in this woman after 18 years of hormones, so we are excited.

And even though we are based in New York, you can fly in to do the ESSM. And since the sperm is frozen- we can send it anywhere in the country. 

As I stated in the article-“ the vast majority of trans women who are transitioning aren’t given the option to bank their sperm, and once they’re put on hormones and have their testes surgically removed, their options have closed,” 

For more information about ESSM or Cryobanking, give us a call and we will be more than happy to assist you.