What is Cryopreservation?

Cryopreservation is a technique of freezing an egg, sperm or embryo, effectively postponing pregnancy. The innovative assisted reproduction technology and a team of highly experienced professionals at Apollo Fertility help in successful cryopreservation for prolonging fertility.

ART (Assisted Reproductive Technology) plays an important role that helps with fertility preservation for a longer duration by preserving sperm, eggs, embryos, and ovarian tissues. Fertility preservation is an excellent assisted reproduction technique for anyone who is not ready to start a family but wants to later in life. As fertility declines with age, freezing eggs, sperm or embryo help a couple become parents even beyond the ripe fertility age. 

Why maybe Cryopreservation necessary? 

Cryopreservation of eggs, sperm, or embryos might be necessary for the following reasons:

  • Prolonging fertility 
  • For people in their 20s and early 30s planning pregnancy later
  • Before treating severe illnesses like cancer
  • For people who work in a high-risk environment like military 
  • For females with a history of early menopause 

It is recommended for women who are at risk of premature ovarian failure. Women with a family history of early menopause might suffer from loss of ovarian reserve by their late 30s.

Medical condition – It is best to freeze the egg, sperm, or embryo before undergoing chemotherapy or radiation, as it helps in protecting fertility.

High-risk work– If an individual serves in the military or is deployed in a war zone, cryopreservation helps protect fertility, which might be impacted due to injury.

What are the risk factors for Cryopreservation? 

Here are some of the risk factors for cryopreservation:

  • Cryopreservation of sperm samples might reduce the mobility of the sperm. 
  • There is a possibility that all the cells that are frozen might not survive the freezing process.

What happens throughout the Cryopreservation procedure?

Cryopreservation is the deep freezing of sperm, egg, testicular or ovarian tissues, and embryo in liquid nitrogen at a temperature of -196°C. The freezing is done by mixing the egg or sperm or the tissues with a cryoprotective agent that reduces the chance of the formation of ice crystals. The cryopreservation process makes procedures like in-vitro fertilisation, insemination, or ICSI (Intracytoplasmic sperm injection) possible later.

Here are different forms of cryopreservation performed as a part of assisted reproduction procedure:

Cryopreservation of eggs

The doctor thoroughly assesses the ovarian reserve before ovulation induction. The onset of the cycle involves ovulation induction medication to stimulate the maturation of eggs. The doctors constantly monitor the size of the eggs through ultrasound and even determine hormone levels. Once the egg achieves the ideal size, the eggs are retrieved, and the embryologist freezes the eggs in the lab.

Cryopreservation of sperm

The procedure involves freezing the semen sample in the lab for future use. The patient must abstain from ejaculation two to five days before the collection of the semen sample to ensure a healthy sperm count. The semen sample collected from the patient is stored in liquid nitrogen at a temperature of -196°C.

Sperm freezing often involves a fast freezing method known as vitrification. An experienced and highly skilled andrologist conducts it. The sperm is placed in cryogenic vials, mixed with cryoprotectant, and stored in liquid nitrogen tanks.

Cryopreservation of embryos

The eggs are retrieved from the woman and fertilised with the sperm to form an embryo in-vitro. The fertilised embryo is frozen in liquid nitrogen. The cryopreservation of the embryo is common during the in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) procedure. Cryopreserved embryo increases the chances of conceiving and can be transferred during cycles requiring minimal or no medication.

You can request an appointment easily at Apollo Fertility, Banjara Hills, for a consultation by calling 1860 500 4424.

After Cryopreservation, what happens? 

After the cryopreservation process, the frozen egg, sperm or embryo can be retrieved later for pregnancy. The frozen egg or sperm are thawed and fertilised to form an embryo in a lab and implanted in the woman's uterus. In the case of the frozen embryo, as it is already fertilised, it is thawed and implanted to help a couple plan their pregnancy.

1. Who is an ideal candidate for cryopreservation?

It is ideal for people in their 20s and early 30s who want to become parents later in life. With declining fertility in the mid-30s, it is best to cryopreserve egg, sperm or embryo if you wish to postpone parenthood until the late 30s or early 40s.

2. Why is vitrification preferred for cryopreservation?

Vitrification is a process of fast freezing and is preferred as it immediately freezes the egg, sperm, or embryo.

3. I am planning to cryopreserve my eggs. How long can it remain viable?

The eggs can be frozen for a long time as it arrests all the activities. It can be stored and remain viable for up to 15 years and even more.

4. How long does it take to recover an egg from freezing?

Once the egg is retrieved, it takes nearly one week or sometimes even less time for all the normal activities to resume. It prepares the egg for fertilization.

5. What is the role of cryoprotectants in embryo/egg/sperm freezing?

The cryoprotective agent is liquid in nature and acts as an anti-freeze. It protects the cell from the formation of ice crystals.

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