Egg freezing is a method of storing your eggs to preserve fertility and allow you to have a baby later. It’s an option usually considered by women not in a position to have a baby, or whose fertility is at risk for medical reasons.
The Egg Freezing Process
During every cycle, eggs grow in fluid filled sacs (called follicles) on the ovaries. Only 1 egg will mature and be released (through ovulation), the rest will die. The egg freezing process, as with an IVF cycle helps all the eggs to mature.
Stimulation Of your Ovaries
Generally, stimulation is by giving yourself hormone injections using a tiny needle under the skin. Don’t worry, it’s not scary, and your fertility nurse will help you through the process. During the stimulation period, you’ll be monitored via blood tests and ultrasounds.
Thanks to the advancement in technology, it is now possible to preserve one’ s eggs, in order to retain their current characteristics while preserving it for future use.
Embryo Freezing is the process of fertilizing the eggs with sperm from a male partner or donor and then freezing the embryos. It is a relatively new technique which is used as a part of the IVF treatment, that offers the opportunity for couples to conceive more than once from a single IVF procedure. A couple can choose to store their embryos for future use, should they decide to conceive again without going through the ovum pick up, and In Vitro Fertilization steps of the process. If they later decide not to use the embryos, they may elect to donate them to other couples.
How does it Work?
Embryo freezing is done by a process called vitrification, which is ‘flash freezing’ to remove water and replace it with a solution to maintain the integrity of the embryo. The process of embryo freezing is very simple. The unused embryos are frozen and stored in liquid nitrogen tank at 196 degrees Celsius. During the freezing process, a liquid called cryoprotectant is added to protect the embryos. It is not necessary that all embryos will survive the thawing process. Therefore, for the next cycle, your doctor might advise you to have more embryos thawed than transferring them.
Sperm freezing is the process of collecting, analyzing, freezing and storing a man’s sperm. The samples are later used for fertility treatments or donated to other couples or individuals, including same sex female partners. This overall process is known as cryopreservation and is sometimes referred to as sperm banking.
The Cryopreservation Process Involves:
- Routine screening for infection (HIV, hepatitis and rapid plasma reagin test for syphilis).
- Providing a semen sample or undergoing a sperm extraction.
- Lab analysis of sperm quantity and quality.
- Freezing of viable sperm.
- Storage of the sperm indefinitely.
How are Sperm Collected and Frozen?
Sperm (the reproductive cells found in a man’s semen) is typically collected through masturbation. A man can choose to collect his sample at home or in our clinic, but should only use an approved, sterile lubricant that doesn’t harm the sample quality.
Men are also asked to abstain from sexual activity for approximately two days prior to the appointment to allow for the best possible specimen. Once a semen sample is provided it is tested for sperm quantity, shape and movement within each specimen.
If sperm are not present in the sample or if the man is unable to ejaculate, a surgical retrieval to remove sperm directly from the testicle is another option.
Next, the samples are separated into multiple vials to be frozen. Lab technicians will use specialized cryoprotectant (“anti-freeze”) agents to help preserve and protect sperm cells. The frozen sperm is then stored in the lab until needed. When the time comes, the sperm is thawed, washed and tested for mobility prior to use in IUI or IVF.