Cryopreservation is becoming more and more popular among women and men who are looking to start a family later in life. This assisted reproductive technology involves freezing a woman’s eggs for the purpose of in vitro fertilization at some point in the future. Once eggs are thawed and fertilized, a blastocyst (embryo) is then transferred to the woman’s uterus where pregnancy and ensuing fetal development takes place. Read on to discover why women are choosing this procedure with the help of our experts at Viera Fertility Clinic.
The Cryopreservation Process
Women who want their eggs frozen will need daily injections of gonadotropins for stimulating the growth of ovarian follicles (oocytes). Once eggs are detected by our fertility doctor using ultrasound imaging, they are retrieved transvaginally and either frozen as unfertilized or fertilized eggs. Embryos are usually frozen the day they are fertilized by a partner’s sperm, donor sperm, or frozen when they become blastocysts about six days later.
Cryopreservation is accomplished by vitrification of eggs. Vitrification is the rapid freezing of eggs that nearly eliminates damage to eggs previously seen in oocytes frozen more slowly. Rapid freezing has also improved pregnancy rates in women using frozen eggs to get pregnant.
Liquid nitrogen freezes eggs or embryos to around -320 degrees Fahrenheit. Protective agents are used to further prevent damage to eggs during and after vitrification. Although it’s not yet know how long eggs can be frozen before they become unusable, fertility doctors recommend using eggs within five to 10 years of freezing them.
4 Advantages to Cryopreservation
Timelines change, and it’s important to understand that cryopreservation can help benefit couples who are:
1. Delaying Pregnancy
Most women opting for freezing their eggs want to postpone having a baby until they are in their 30s or early 40s. The quality and number of eggs begin to decline in women after age 30, making it more difficult to get pregnant and sustain a healthy pregnancy. Freezing higher quality eggs when you are in your 20s is recommended for women who want to delay pregnancy for personal reasons.
2. Preimplantation Genetic Testing
Women worried about passing certain genetic disorders onto their children can have embryos undergo genetic testing before they are frozen. Embryos that do not have genetic disorders can then be screened out and used for uterine implantation purposes.
3. Women Who Need Radiation or Chemotherapy
Cancer treatments will have a negative effect on both male and female fertility. Radiation and anti-cancer drugs target the DNA of egg and sperm cells and drastically reduce their viability. For women who want to get pregnant but learn they need intensive cancer therapy, cryopreservation offers them the ability to freeze eggs that can be used after they complete cancer treatments.
4. Unused Frozen Embryos Provide Multiple Chances for Pregnancy
If the transfer of one frozen embryo fails to result in a pregnancy, any remaining embryos can be transferred to increase the chance of pregnancy occurring. Having multiple frozen embryos available for use over an extended period of time is an advantage only provided by cryopreservation.
Cryopreservation of Sperm
Sperm cells can also be safely frozen in liquid nitrogen at the same temperature needed to freeze eggs. Reasons why men choose to freeze sperm are similar to the reasons women have their eggs frozen. In addition to delaying having children or undergoing cancer treatments, men may have sperm cells frozen when the collection of sperm cannot be done at the same time IVF insemination takes place. Some men also elect to have their sperm extracted from testicles and frozen when they cannot ejaculate due to medical conditions like erectile dysfunction or Peyronie’s disease. Others want to donate sperm or preserve sperm before undergoing gender reassignment surgery.
Viera Fertility Clinic is a leading fertility clinic in Florida offering cryopreservation, assisted reproductive technologies, fertility testing for men and women and many other infertility treatments. Contact us today to schedule a consultation appointment with the clinic’s fertility doctor if you are interested in learning more about cryopreservation, IVF, IUI and fertility testing.