Generally, there are two reasons for freezing eggs. Some women need to freeze for medical reasons such as impaired ovarian function and imminent chemotherapy or radiotherapy treatment for cancer. Time is of the essence when it comes to protecting your fertility ahead of cancer treatment so it is important to contact a Fertility Specialist
immediately to discuss the right plan for you. Other women choose to freeze their eggs because they are aware of the impact of age on fertility so want to give themselves options in later years.
Sperm is frozen using a slightly different method. Clinicians may advise you to freeze sperm:
- if you are about to undergo major surgery or medical treatments, such as chemotherapy for cancer
- if you are exposed to a toxic environment
- if you are having a vasectomy (and there is a possibility that you may want to have children in the future)
- if you have a dangerous profession or pastime where there is risk of injury.
Patients also freeze sperm ahead of assisted reproductive treatment as a backup just in case they are unable to attend due to travel or other commitments or if they have experienced difficulty collecting a sample.
Blastocyst stage embryos may be frozen as part of an IVF cycle. Frozen embryos have similar implantation rates and pregnancy outcomes to fresh embryos of similar quality.
Some couples may choose to undertake IVF and freeze embryos to preserve their fertility while they wait for a more suitable time to try for a pregnancy. Depending on the number of embryos that develop, there may be more than one opportunity for pregnancy from one round of IVF.
Preparation for a frozen embryo transfer cycle (cryo cycle) involves simple medications and blood test monitoring.
Genea was the first clinic in Australia to develop and routinely replace the old slow freezing method with the more efficient and successful vitrification process. Older techniques risked ice crystals forming during the freezing process which more commonly caused cell damage. In contrast, vitrification technology is similar to snap freezing whereby scientists place the eggs or embryos in a special solution called a vitrification medium and that solution is then cooled so quickly that the structure of the water molecules doesn’t have time to form ice crystals. Instead it instantaneously solidifies into a glass-like structure.