Planning a family with IVF can seem intimidating and complex, especially if you’re not well-versed in medical concepts or terminology. Coupled with the emotional stress of not being able to have a biological family naturally, this can be a scary time. But with the latest advancements in reproductive technology, more people are using cryopreservation to help plan their families.
Below, we discuss the science behind cryopreservation, how it works for in-vitro fertilization, and how you can get the clinical support you need to grow your family.
Cryopreservation is the process of freezing cells or tissues below -135°C to preserve them for future use. This works by preventing any chemical, physical, or metabolic changes in the cells that would occur during the normal aging process. The cells stop maturing but they don’t die, allowing them to be kept for an extended period. When the aging process is later “unpaused,” the tissue is unaffected and continues developing normally. Cell death is arrested but the cell remains intact, unaffected, and essentially “frozen” in time until it reaches a temperature that cell function can restart.
Types Of Cryopreservation
There are generally two kinds of cryopreservation – either slow freezing or vitrification. Both use liquid nitrogen, which reduces the temperature of the tissue to a frigid -196 degrees C (-320 degrees F).
Slow freezing involves slowly cooling the cells or tissues over a specific period at the same time they are being exposed to a cryoprotectant (antifreeze) solution. This process generally occurs over a period of 24-48 hours until all of the water is removed from the cells and the embryo is fully frozen.
Vitrification is a newer technique that involves rapidly cooling the cells or tissues at an extreme rate while being exposed to higher concentrations of cryoprotectant, which prevents the formation of ice crystals that can damage delicate cell walls. While both of these methods are effective, vitrification is generally considered to be the superior of the two since it results in the death of fewer cells and offers better protection for cell function.
Cryopreservation & IVF
Cryopreservation is used in assisted reproductive technology to preserve eggs, sperm, or fertilized embryos. This technology has revolutionized fertility treatment by allowing couples and individuals to preserve their reproductive potential for many years.
There are numerous applications for cryopreservation in fertility treatments, including but not limited to:
- Advanced maternal age
- Future medical treatment, such as chemotherapy
- History of recurrent miscarriages
- Wish to wait until later in life before having biological children
- Partner is in a high-risk job, such as the military
- Partners are same-sex
Cryopreservation also allows for the selection of higher-quality embryos for implantation when used in conjunction with next generation sequencing (NGS). With traditional IVF methods, embryos are typically selected for transfer based on their morphology or appearance. NGS enables scientists to better identify embryos with chromosomal abnormalities or specific genetic disorders. This is called preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) and can help couples and their physicians select the highest-quality embryos for transfer.
Learn More About Cryopreservation
We offer a wide variety of reproductive and fertility preservation services that can help you start a family. Contact us today by dialing 321.751.4673 (HOPE) or by our online contact form. Our team of Melbourne IVF specialists will get back to you as soon as possible to answer your important questions.