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Cryopreservation

Cryopreservation

When and at what age a couple wants to have a child does not have to be limited because of a biological clock. Cryopreservation given couples the choice to have a child at a later stage in their life as well. This process can help people preserve fertility and let couples get pregnant any time in the future. Cryopreservation is the process of freezing eggs, sperm, or embryos to sub-zero temperatures for later use. When the eggs, sperm or embryos are needed, they are thawed and fertilized or used in a fertility treatment cycle.

At BirthRight Fertility by Rainbow Hospitals, a team of expert fertility specialists and latest technology makes the process of cryopreservation seamless and as painless as possible. We provide comprehensive care to couples who opt for cryopreservation and that is supported by our highly-experienced team of fertility specialist and allied services. Our advanced facilities, research-based testing methods, and world-class specialists enable us to offer high-quality care for couples even in the most complex cases.

- Two methods can be used for cryopreservation at IVF labs: vitrification and slow freezing. In recent years, vitrification has become highly popular and has been used more increasingly because of the benefits it offers, including low risk of cell damage.

- It is possible to freeze the embryo at any point prior to the blastocyst stage. The blastocyst stage occurs 5-7 days after fertilization. Before freezing the embryos, a cryoprotectant solution is used for lowering the freezing point of the embryo. This step is necessary for preventing ice crystals from forming inside the cells, which might cause damage.

- Frozen embryos are known to be extremely resilient. They remain frozen safely for extremely long durations. Around 2/3rd of embryos do not get harmed from freezing and thawing. There have even been cases of frozen embryos from 20 years ago being used to help couples get pregnant successfully.

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FAQs
Should I consider cryopreservation?

There are a number of reasons why egg freezing can be beneficial, particularly for women who wish to preserve their fertility for the future. These include:

If you want to delay bearing a child for pursuing goals related to education, career or personal life.
If you have a cancer diagnosis
If you wish to keep the option of frozen embryo transfer cycle open for future pregnancy

Why do people opt for cryopreservation?

There are several reasons why couples might opt for freezing and storing their embryos, including:

Cryopreservation might be deemed as a better option as compared to destroying the extra embryos
It provides another opportunity for achieving pregnancy if the process of IVF fails initially. The woman won’t have to go through ovarian stimulation and egg retrieval in future IVF cycles.
Even if the couple has a baby, the frozen embryos can be used for having another baby in the future.
Cryopreservation provides an option of saving embryos before the woman undergoes treatments, such as that for cancer, which might eliminate or reduce her chances of achieving pregnancy
The saved embryos can even be donated to other couples
The saved embryos can even be donated for the purpose of scientific research

What exactly is embryo freezing?

Embryo freezing or cryopreservation is a process that our specialists use for freezing and storing fertilized eggs or embryos. Usually, the eggs created during the process of IVF that remain unused are frozen. The process of embryo cryopreservation involves embryo freezing as its first step. The next step involves storing frozen embryos. Later, if needed, the embryos are thawed for use in future IVF cycles. As a result, the patients that are undergoing IVF currently have the option of saving time and money with future cycles. In the future cycles, the woman won’t have to take as many medications or undergo the egg retrieval process.

In general, couples choose to freeze their embryos because they wish to have additional options in the future if they decide to become a parent. Other reasons why cryopreservation is considered to include factors like increasing age, risk of injury because of a medical condition or cancer treatment.

What is vitrification?

Embryo vitrification is a process that involves embryos being frozen into a glass-like state. The embryos can be indefinitely stored once they are vitrified. Fertility experts at BirthRight Fertility by Rainbow can help you know more about it.

When should I freeze my eggs?

If you are in your prime years, you may be confident about being successfully able to start a family in the future. However, the path to pregnancy isn’t always straightforward for all women. You may not want to wait for too long before you explore the option of fertility preservation. You should consult with your healthcare provider regarding the same.

Are there any risks involved in embryo freezing?

There have been researches that show that freezing the embryo and later thawing them, doesn’t have any harmful effect on the babies made subsequently through IVF. The success rate of IVF isn’t affected by the amount of time the embryo was stored.

Thanks to new and improved technology being used, there is hardly any difference in the rate of pregnancy between fresh and frozen embryos. Additionally, frozen embryo transfer involves a gentler stimulation process with normal hormonal levels, which may improve the rate of pregnancy.

During the slow freeze process, if any ice crystals are formed, they may harm the embryo during the process of thawing. It is because of this risk that vitrification is the preferred technique for cryopreservation. There is no increased risk of birth defects among children born from frozen embryos.

How long can a frozen embryo be stored?

After embryos are frozen, they can be indefinitely stored. The longest duration of storing a human embryo has been around 30 years. Typically, people who have had their embryos stored for over a decade do not end up using them. Even thawing after 20 years has resulted in healthy babies from frozen embryos.

What is Oocyte (Egg) Freezing?

Oocyte freezing is a procedure which consists of freezing viable oocytes (eggs) prior to fertilization. These frozen oocytes can be thawed and fertilized with sperm at some date in future for the purpose of treatment.
It is usually considered for:

Women who are about to undergo treatment for certain cancers, which may affect the ovaries, preventing production of oocytes in the future.
In cases where insemination of oocytes with sperm after retrieval was cancelled due to inability of husband to produce semen samples. When donor sperm is not an option, oocytes may be frozen until the husband undergoes treatment and is able to provide viable sperms.
Ovarian stimulation and oocyte collection procedures are similar to standard IVF. The oocytes are then frozen within 24 hours of collection. At any later date, they can be thawed and injected with sperm as in ICSI (Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection) to achieve fertilization. The timing, preparation of uterine cavity and embryo transfer are as for frozen-embryo transfers.

Oocyte freezing is still considered to be in its experimental stage. In comparison with frozen embryo cycles, oocyte freeze/thaw cases are much lower in number due to the poor survival rate of oocytes. However, after the introduction of Vitrification, the technique has significantly improved.


Are the eggs fertilized before freezing?

Yes, freezing of embryos is done only after they are fertilized. There are even options for freezing oocytes of eggs before they fertilize. In such cases, fertilization is performed after thawing the eggs, after which the embryo can be transferred.

How successful is frozen embryo transfer as compared to fresh embryo transfer?

Frozen embryo transfer is considered to be as successful as fresh embryo transfers. In fact, a lot of IVF specialists even recommend the use of frozen eggs over fresh ones for embryo transfer. Both procedures have a similar success rate.

What is Sperm Freezing?


Sperms can be frozen for a number of reasons:

To store donated sperm (sperm banking) (Not done at our centre)
Back up sperm samples are frozen for couples undergoing infertility treatment if the husband finds it difficult to ejaculate on demand. Such frozen samples are thawed and used for insemination on the day of oocyte retrieval.
Surplus surgically extracted sperms (TESA, PESA), can be frozen after they have been used for insemination.
Prior to cancer treatment that may compromise fertility.

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