AART - Preserving Embryos and Sperm

Preserving Embryos and Sperm

What is embryo freezing?

In the past, embryos were frozen by a method called “slow freezing”, where the success of achieving a pregnancy was approximately 20%. With the introduction of a new freezing method known as “vitrification” pregnancy success rates have greatly improved. Pregnancy success rates from frozen embryo transfers appear to be the same as transferring fresh embryos.

What is the purpose of embryo freezing?

Embryo freezing can increase the options available to IVF couples. The ideal number of embryos to transfer during an IVF cycle is one. Some couples have more than one embryo. Embryo freezing provides a method of storing the extra embryos so they can be used at another time.

What are the benefits of this procedure?

If successful in producing a pregnancy, this may save the woman from having to go through ovulation stimulation, egg retrieval and the costs associated with an IVF cycle. If spare embryos are considered to be of good quality, they do not have to be discarded. They can be saved and used during a natural or mediated cycle at a later date. We usually recommend the addition of medication during such a cycle.

Is there any increased chance of birth defects with this procedure?

To date there have been several thousand births reported as a result of this procedure and there appears to be no increase in birth defects or genetic abnormalities.

How long can frozen embryos be stored?

Currently, at AART, embryos can be stored indefinitely.

How do we find out more about embryo freezing?

AART has a comprehensive information booklet on embryo freezing. Please read this booklet carefully. Members of our IVF team will also be happy to answer any additional questions that you may have.

Semen Cryopreservation

There are many situations that may interfere with a man’s future fertility. Some are planned, some are accidental and others are due to complications of illnesses or their treatment. Regardless of their current situation, many men decide to freeze extra sperm as a safeguard against unforeseen future circumstances.

How do I arrange to freeze sperm?

Contact your family doctor or specialist to make arrangements with AART. Be prepared to sign a request for service form and to undergo some tests for the freezing and storage of sperm. It is best to abstain from intercourse and ejaculation for three days before the first sample and for about two to three days between semen samples.

How long can the sperm stay frozen?

Indefinitely.

What happens if I want to thaw and use the samples?

There is a limited supply of semen in these circumstances. Patients should discuss their options with a reproductive specialist. If the sperm samples are of good quality, they can be used for intrauterine inseminations at the time of ovulation. However, if the sperm is of poor quality then IVF and ICSI may be indicated. If the sperm has been frozen and thawed, pregnancy rates are usually lower than in the general fertile population. Many men who freeze sperm have been ill and their sperm counts may be already reduced. They may only be suitable for use in the more complex therapies, such as IVF and ICSI.

Could there be a problem with the quality of sperm?

Yes, there may be a problem with the number and quality of the sperm, especially in men who are about to undergo cancer treatment. Their underlying illness may have caused a drop in the sperm count or in the motility (movement) of the sperm. Time permitting; it may be advisable to freeze even more specimens in such situations.