Cryopreservation is a common addition to In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) here at our Valencia, Beverly Hills, and Sherman Oaks fertility centers. The aim of cryopreservation is to preserve fertilized dividing embryos or unfertilized eggs (oocytes) for use in the future. This is helpful in many ways, and can help couples and individuals reach their dream of parenthood when the time is right for them.
Reasons for Cryopreservation
Embryos may be frozen for more than a decade and still be healthy enough to create a viable pregnancy. There are those who conceive with a fresh cycle and return years later to attempt another pregnancy with their frozen embryos. Others who have not been successful in their fresh IVF cycle can try to conceive through a frozen embryo transfer (FET) cycle. This allows for a second or third attempt at conception without exposure to fertility drugs and the high cost of a fresh IVF cycle.
We can also freeze a patient’s eggs for future use when someone is diagnosed with cancer and treatment (cancer treatment with chemotherapy or radiation) that might affect future fertility. Other candidates for egg freezing are women who desire future fertility but do not have a partner or sperm donor. They wish to stop their biological clock from ticking and not be forced into a relationship or marriage as a means of being able to have a child. Others who are single and intend to be single parents but have not found the appropriate sperm donor and are concerned about their egg quality as they are getting older will try to freeze their eggs.
Future reproductive options for the use of sperm freezing include IUI or IVF. Variability in the success of the freezing process occurs between individuals as well as between semen samples. For each semen sample we determine the semen volume, sperm count (concentration), and percent motility. The sample is diluted with cryoprotectant to protect the sperm from freezing conditions and distributed into cryovals. Each semen sample will provide one or more vials, the vials are slowly cooled, then frozen and stored at our lab.
Not all embryos or eggs are eligible for cryopreservation. Embryos that are not candidates for cryopreservation include those that divide slowly or are irregular in any other way. During the thawing process, embryos can incur trauma or damage, which leads to a loss of viability. At the Center for Reproductive Health & Gynecology, we have found that previously frozen embryos have roughly half the implantation rate of fresh, never frozen embryos.
Egg freezing is not a procedure without technical difficulties. Egg freezing may not be possible if the quality of the eggs give us indications that they may not survive the freeze/ thaw and the subsequent fertilization process. Anyone who desires egg freezing should sit down with one of our board certified fertility specialists and review the available treatment options and their advantages and disadvantages.