Egg, Sperm, And Embryo Freezing

What is Egg Freezing And How Does It Work?

Egg freezing, or oocyte cryopreservation, is a method to extend fertility that consists of the extraction, freezing, and storing of a woman’s eggs to preserve their reproductive potential. This process helps individuals and couples to maintain a high probability of pregnancy in the future when they decide it’s time to start a family.

 

Who Should Consider Egg Freezing?

Women who want to:

  • Maintain the chances of a successful pregnancy at another stage of their lives.
  • Conserve their eggs healthy before starting treatments for certain diseases, like cancer.
  • Keep a healthy, high-quality ovarian reserve to postpone motherhood.
  • Delay childbearing in order to pursue professional, educational, or personal goals.

 

Egg Freezing Process

The oocytes (the germ cells that are in the process of becoming ovules) are extracted through a small puncture of the ovary. The mature oocytes are selected and, one by one, they are bathed in a sucrose solution to help eliminate any water residue, which is necessary to avoid the formation of crystals that could damage them.

The clean oocytes are placed in a small tube, which is immersed in liquid nitrogen at subzero temperatures, where they are immediately frozen. Once the oocytes are frozen, they are stored in a nitrogen tank until they are ready to be used.

 

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What is Ovarian Tissue Freezing And How Does It Work?

Ovarian tissue freezing is a specialized procedure for women with breast cancer or some other variants, who find egg freezing to be quite time-consuming as they need to undergo chemotherapy treatments as soon as possible.

 

Who Should Consider Ovarian Tissue Freezing?

This treatment may be suitable for:

  • Minors diagnosed with cancer, who are not yet egg producers but must undergo chemotherapy immediately.
  • Women who want to preserve their egg production capability when age is no longer an advantage factor.
  • Female cancer patients who don’t want to undergo ovarian stimulation.

 

Ovarian Tissue Freezing Process

The procedure is usually performed in two phases: The first one consists of a surgery where a sample of an ovary (or the whole gland) is collected and later frozen for preservation.

The second phase is performed years after oncological treatments (approximately 5); the ovarian tissue is re-implanted in the woman’s reproductive system. As time goes by, the tissue will be able to start its ovulatory production again, which will allow achieving pregnancy, either naturally or using the in vitro method.

 

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What is Sperm Freezing And How Does It Work?

Sperm freezing, or sperm cryopreservation, is a method where a sample of the best possible specimen of semen is collected, analyzed, frozen, and stored to preserve a man’s chances of conceiving a biological baby in the future.

 

Who Should Consider Sperm Freezing?

This treatment can be suitable for men who:

  • Have been diagnosed with testicular or prostate cancer.
  • Are undergoing surgeries or medical procedures that might jeopardize his future fertility.
  • Plan to be sperm donors.
  • Suffer ejaculatory dysfunction.
  • Are undergoing a fertility procedure, to ensure the semen’s availability when the procedure requires it.
  • Work in high-risk professions where they are exposed to chemicals, radiation, or extreme heat that can cause sterility.

 

Sperm Freezing Process

The cryopreservation of semen involves a routine screening for infections, collecting a sperm sample or performing an extraction, and lab analysis of the sperm’s volume, shape, and movement; this will help determine how many samples are needed.

Next, these samples are separated into multiple vials to be frozen using a specialized substance that protects the sperm cells. Lastly, they are stored in a sperm bank until needed. When the time comes, the sample is thawed, washed, and tested before any fertility treatment like IVF or IUI.

 

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