Freezing Sperm & Storage
Scientists and researchers have started freeing sperm for decades. Sperm samples are frozen and stored until needed. The frozen process is tolerated well. There are many reasons why sperm are stored frozen. Some are stored frozen for convenience (for example, the male partner will be travelling on the day his female partner is due for insemination). For some men, surgeries can be performed to harvest sperm and the sperm is frozen and stored in several batches to prevent the need of going through the surgery again in the future. For some men, their sperm numbers are low and their sperm is hence stored cumulatively to allow the couple to go through in vitro fertilization (artificial insemination). Sperm freezing may also be recommended for those who are anxious about producing sperm sample on the day of insemination.
Once sperm is thawed, it is normal for some of the sperm to die. Since most sperm samples have millions of live sperm, there is no consequence to losing a fraction of them due to thawing. Individuals who opt for sperm freezing includes: cancer patients, pre-vasectomy patients, military personnel, police officers, firefighters, high impact athletes, transgender clients and advancing paternal age.
Human embryo freezing and storing
The first human embryo was successfully frozen in 1984. Embryo freezing is routine after in vitro fertilization and approximately 60% end up with embryos in storage. Freezing of excess good quality embryo allows for the transfer of less embryos and avoiding higher-order pregnancies such as twins or triplets which may compromise the mother’s health. This also provides patients with a back-up if the first embryo does not result in pregnancy. Embryos can be frozen at any stage of the development. They tolerate freeing extremely well. Pregnancy rates with frozen embryos are comparable to fresh embryos that are transferred without ever being frozen.
What is embryo storage
Embryo storage is preservation of the embryo in the cold for future use. To collect eggs, women are given fertility drugs to stimulate the ovaries to produce more eggs. Patients who use embryo storage are patients who are undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) or intra cytoplasmic injection (ICSI). These are methods of fertility treatment procedures to help couples who are diagnosed with infertility. Other patients who opt for embryo storage include women who are concerned with their future fertility, cancer patients, military personnel, police officers, firefighters, high impact athletes, transgender clients and more. It is more cost effective to go through egg collection only once and have the unused embryos stored instead of collecting eggs before every treatment.
How are embryos thawed?
The embryos that are taken out of the freezer are warmed to room temperature in 3 seconds. The rapid thaw method minimizes the damage to the embryos. After the thawing process is performed at room temperature, the embryo is warmed up to body temperature (37 Celsius) and can be ready for transfer 40 minutes after leaving the freezer.
- Embryo Storage. Reprotech Limited. https://www.reprotech.com/embryo-storage.html. 2/6/2017.
- Sperm and embryo freeing. Pacific Fertility Center. https://www.pacificfertilitycenter.com/treatment-care/sperm-and-embryo-freezing. Accessed 2/6/2017.