Cryopreservation is the process of freezing and storing embryos for transfer later. Freezing of Embryos gives couples the opportunity to try additional cycles of IVF, either after a failed attempt, or a first birth or even after medical treatments such as chemotherapy. In a single IVF cycle, a large number of embryos are sometimes produced. When transferring embryos back into the uterus we try to avoid twin/triplet pregnancy, and therefore more than 3 embryos are rarely transferred. Thus, at the end of a treatment cycle, extra embryos may be frozen and used in the future in case the patient does not conceive or if she returns for treatment again after completing her pregnancy.
Freezing is done with the aid of an embryo freezer and the embryos are frozen in straws and transferred into liquid nitrogen dewars.
Preservation of Fertility (Ovum (Egg) Freezing)
Ovum or Egg freezing is a procedure whereby a ladies’ eggs are retrieved and frozen for future IVF procedures. Given that the quality of eggs diminishes rapidly as a woman ages, this can be a major factor in her ability to conceive naturally later in her life. Egg freezing can give a woman the chance to save her eggs while she is younger and use them when she is ready to have a child.
Egg freezing is a way of protecting or preserving fertility for patients who are at risk of losing their ovarian function; patients who have been diagnosed with cancer and are scheduled for chemotherapy; and women who decide to postpone having a child for other social, financial or personal reasons. Our fertility specialist will advise and guide you on options for egg freezing and the treatment and procedure. There will be stimulation prior to egg retrieval to stimulate the ovaries to produce several eggs. Once the follicles are mature, the oocytes will be retrieved through a medical procedure. Our specialist embryologist will assess the quality of the eggs and the healthy ones are then labelled and frozen in our high-quality cryopreservation units for future use.
What is the procedure for Embryo or Egg Freezing?
- Consultation: You will meet our Lead Fertility specialist who will discuss in detail the procedure and the options most suitable for your situation.
- Screening / Tests: Ultrasounds and blood tests may be conducted based on the advice of the Fertility specialist.
- Stimulation: Hormone medication will be prescribed to stimulate the ovaries to produce more eggs in an ovulation cycle. The growth of follicles and carefully monitored during the stimulation.
- Egg (Oocyte) Retrieval: The eggs will be picked up through a minor medical procedure that is done trans-vaginally by the Fertility Specialist in a temperature controlled theatre. The oocytes are picked up and transferred immediately to the lab through a pass-window connecting the theatre to the lab in a sterile environment.
- Fertilization: The egg (ovum) are analyzed by our Embryologist and the healthy eggs are selected. Where embryo freezing is concerned, the egg is then fertilized using IVF (PICSI where indicated). The embryo is then grown in a managed environment in the lab for 3 days or up to blastocyst stage for 5 days.
- Freezing: The embryos or the eggs are then stored in special cryopreservation conditions with Cannisters after careful labelling and tagging for future use by the patient.
What options are available for men?
Adult men can also preserve fertility with the freezing and storage of semen. In cases where the man has low sperm counts or poor motility they should ideally consider freezing and storing their sperm for future use.
Sperm can be collected through ejaculation, or through a technique called TESA/TESE where sperm is collected through surgical extraction directly from the testes.
In circumstances where a man must undergo chemotherapy or any form of radiation, or exposure to treatments that can cause infertility, sperm collection and freezing is the option he should consider to preserve male fertility.