Learn about cryopreservation and how freezing sperm, eggs, and embryo can prolong male and female fertility including how to begin the process and the costs.
Cryopreservation is a way for individuals to prolong fertility by freezing sperm, eggs, and embryos offering hope to individuals and couples who dream one day of having a family.
What is Cryopreservation?
Cryopreservation is the process of freezing cells, tissues, and other biological materials by freezing them at a very low temperature. In regards to fertility, sperm, eggs, and embryos, they can be thawed and used at a later time for future use.
Cryopreservation in Fertility
Cryopreservation is now an option for those who, for whatever reason, wish to prolong their fertility. Eggs, sperm, and embryo can currently be cryopreserved.
The first human birth from a frozen egg was reported in 1986. Since then, technology has been refined and developed. As a result, cryopreservation is a mainstream option for individuals looking to prolong their fertility.
Cryopreservation of Eggs or Oocytes
If you are looking to freeze your eggs, it's important to first look to a fertility clinic that specializes or has expertise in egg freezing, so they can best inform you on the process. There is a whole process that needs to happen leading up to egg retrieval at a doctor's office or clinic.
Once the eggs have been retrieved, they are placed in a bath of cryoprotectant, which preserves the structure and membranes of the cells during the freezing process. The egg is then transferred to liquid nitrogen and frozen.
The eggs are not fertilized before cryopreservation. When the woman wishes to use the eggs, the eggs will be thawed, fertilized with sperm, and implanted in their uterus. One fertilization technique is called intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), where a single healthy sperm is injected directly into the egg.
Women who may benefit from the cryopreservation of eggs may include:
- Those who are undergoing treatment for cancer that may affect their future fertility;
- Those that do not wish to get pregnant at the current time but wish to preserve their eggs for future use; and
- Those with gender-related changes, sickle cell anemia, or autoimmune diseases that impact their ability to conceive.
Cryopreservation of Sperm
The cryopreservation of sperm has been recognized as an efficient procedure for managing male fertility since the late 1960s. It is usually undertaken by men who are about to undergo treatment for cancer or malignancy, have a genetic predisposition to a particular disease, before undergoing assisted fertility treatment with a partner, and before a vasectomy.
Prior to beginning the cryopreservation process, the sperm will be evaluated to determine motility, sperm count, morphology, and other important factors.
The process involves placing the semen sample in a solution that will protect it during the freezing process before being transferred to plastic vials where it is frozen using liquid nitrogen. As a result, the sperm remain viable for an extended period of time, with successful pregnancies reported after the sperm had been thawed and inseminated after 20 years.
For men, the process of freezing sperm is somewhat simpler than that of women wishing to freeze their eggs. In fact, there are now at-home kits available. Men do not even need to leave their homes to have their sperm evaluated and stored for future use.
Cryopreservation costs vary; however, some insurance companies will now pay for the initial consultation and part of the overall fee. Therefore, it is important to check policies regarding the rules around eligibility.
Cryopreservation represents real hope for individuals who, for whatever reason, be it medical or personal, cannot have a family at the current time but would like to prolong their fertility, hoping they will be in a position to have a family in the future.
This information on the site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Dadi Inc. makes no representation and assumes no responsibility for the accuracy of information contained herein, and such information is subject to change without notice. You are encouraged to confirm any information obtained from or through this web site or article with other sources, and review all information regarding any medical condition or treatment with your physician.
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