Fertility preservation refers to the act of freezing reproductive tissues (sperm, eggs, or embryos) so that they may be used at a later date to create a pregnancy. It is accomplished through the use of liquid nitrogen and special solutions that are engineered to maximize the survival rate of the tissue being preserved. The tissues are kept in specifically designed storage tanks and monitored around the clock to ensure they are kept safe and secure. When the patient is ready to start or grow their family the tissues can be thawed and used in a pregnancy attempt.
Who is it used for?
Fertility preservation is appropriate for anyone who may be worried about their future fertility. It is commonly recommended for patients who may be undergoing cancer treatments that might damage their ability to have children or people serving high risk jobs such as in the military. Increasingly, it has been utilized by those who want to preserve their fertility for an attempt at a family later in life. Modern lifestyles have resulted in a shift in the focus for having and raising a family to later in our lifespans. The problem is that the fertility of both genders, women more so than men, declines with age and people can experience increasingly more and more difficulty conceiving children as their age advances. Fertility preservation allows a person to save reproductive tissue before its effectiveness further declines, empowering them to start their family when they are ready.
Female fertility preservation
Women looking to preserve their fertility have two options: egg freezing or embryo freezing. Egg freezing, sometimes referred to as egg banking, offers women a great way to preserve their chances of having a family when/if they currently may not have the desire, or ability to start a family. This is the preferred method when the patient does not have access to a sperm source.
If the women has access to a sperm source they wish to use, either from their partner or a donor, they can then elect to have us preserve their frozen embryos. Embryo freezing varies in one key aspect from egg freezing. In embryo freezing the eggs are fertilized before they are frozen.
In both procedures the women would go through a fresh IVF cycle at the end of which her eggs would be surgically retrieved. If she was undergoing an egg freezing cycle these eggs would be frozen immediately afterwards. In an embryo freezing cycle they would be fertilized with the desired sperm and then frozen.
Male fertility preservation
For men, the standard procedure is referred to as sperm/semen cryopreservation or more simply as sperm banking. During this procedure the male would produce a semen sample at our lab and it would be processed and frozen in liquid nitrogen the same day. The extremely low temperature of liquid nitrogen ensures that the sperm remains viable in the cryo tanks for any duration of time.
This is commonly done when the male partner cannot be available for a planned insemination or IVF cycle. It is also appropriate whenever the male is uncertain of his future fertility such as when diagnosed with cancer, doing a dangerous job, undergoing an experimental medical trial …etc. Once frozen, the sperm can be used as needed to initiate a pregnancy.
There are several things to consider when determining how much sperm should be banked. Each case is unique and it is difficult to provide a blanket recommendation; however, if you have normal sperm parameters a safe estimate would be one sample per course of treatment (IUI or IVF). It is best to plan for several courses of treatment to ensure success. In order to provide a more personalized recommendation we would be looking at such things as the sperm parameters (count/motility/etc), the probable course of treatment (IVF vs IUI), and your unique biology. Once you become a patient we will walk you through the decision process. When in doubt, it is better to freeze more than less.
ORH is not a long term storage facility. We focus more on couples actively trying to conceive. If the sperm was to be banked for an extended period we would ask you to transfer it to a specialized long-term sperm banking facility.
Now more so than ever, fertility preservation is great option for those wanting to preserve their ability to have children. Recent advances in the field have greatly improved success rates allowing more and more patients the ability to start their family later in life. If you would like to discuss your options or schedule an appointment please contact us, or click on the button below. You can’t turn back the clock, but you can be prepared for the future.