Fertility Preservation

Fertility preservation can be achieved with cryopreservation
of eggs, sperm and embryos.

Fertility preservation is the process of saving eggs or sperm to be used later on to achieve pregnancy. It involves the cryopreservation (freezing) of eggs, sperm, and embryos for future use.

Cryopreservation is often used for fertility preservation when:

  • The aging of a woman may affect the viability of her egg production or ability to carry a baby to term
  • Natural fertility may be affected by cancers that require chemotherapy treatments that can impact reproductive health
  • The aging of a man may affect the health of his sperm
  • There is a desire to delay pregnancy for personal reasons, such as seeking a partner or building a career

Preserved eggs, sperm, or embryos can be used later to achieve pregnancy with the aid of in vitro preservation (IVF) and intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).

Fertility preservation at Lane Fertility Institute

Fertility preservation with Egg Cryopreservation

Also known as egg freezing, egg cryopreservation is a fertility process typically used with in vitro fertilization (IVF) to develop and preserve eggs for future fertilization and implantation. This allows women and couples to have greater control over their biological clock.

Egg cryopreservation and storage (known as egg banking) involve the retrieval of eggs from the ovaries, dehydrating them, and then freezing them. The eggs (oocytes) can be stored for years, even decades, before they are thawed and inseminated with sperm using in vitro fertilization. Once thawed, the eggs can be transferred to the uterus to achieve a pregnancy.

Egg freezing using vitrification

Currently, two types of freezing technologies are used in IVF laboratories for fertility preservation. The older technology is slow freezing, and the second, newer technology, is vitrification.

Lane Fertility Institute specializes in freezing eggs using a technology called vitrification. This technology is the most cutting-edge freezing advancement, resulting in better success rates than in previous years.

Unlike slow cooling, vitrification flash freezes eggs in a matter of seconds. The eggs are submerged in liquid nitrogen at roughly minus 200 degrees. The liquid does not have the time to form crystals. With vitrification, the liquid assumes a smooth, glass-like state. This advanced technology has been approved by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine and has resulted in higher pregnancy success rates for many IVF patients.

San Francisco bay-area Fertility preservation with Egg freezing using vitrification at Lane Fertility Institute

From egg vitrification to implantation

Egg vitrification is typically used with in vitro fertilization (IVF) to achieve pregnancy and involves the following steps:

  • Fertility medications. The female patient is given a series of medications that stimulate the ovaries to produce multiple healthy eggs to obtain as many quality eggs as possible at once.
  • Egg retrieval. The eggs are retrieved from the ovaries.
  • Egg vitrification. After retrieval, an embryologist prepares the eggs for vitrification and then flash-freezes them in liquid nitrogen.
  • Egg storage. The eggs are stored in a temperature-controlled egg bank.
  • Egg implantation. The eggs are thawed and fertilized at the time of desired pregnancy through IVF. An egg is then implanted in the uterus.

Fertility preservation with
Sperm Cryopreservation

Sperm cryopreservation allows sperm to be preserved for future use. Like female eggs, sperm can be frozen for many years, even decades, for fertility preservation.

Cryopreservation is often used to:

  • Preserve sperm before chemotherapy or radiation treatments which can impact the health of sperm. Cryopreservation preserves the ability to reproduce even after adverse health conditions.
  • Preserve sperm before testicular removal or conditions that threaten fertility
  • Avoid the detriments of age that can threaten the optimal health of sperm
  • Delay pregnancy with a partner for personal reasons
  • Preserve sperm from sperm donors for future implantation
Fertility preservation, Sperm Cryopreservation in San Francisco bay-area

When intended parents wish to use frozen sperm, the sperm is thawed. It can then be used to inseminate a female egg via IVF or ICSI to achieve pregnancy. Not all sperm will survive the freezing and thawing process. Approximately 50% do. Since the collection of sperm is extensive, even a 50% survival rate ensures that there will be plenty of sperm that can be used at the time of desired use.

How is sperm obtained for cryopreservation?

Sperm is typically collected by ejaculation into a sterile container in a doctor’s office or home. 

The male providing the sample follows these guidelines:

  • No sex or masturbation for 2-5 days before providing a semen specimen
  • Avoidance of caffeine, alcohol, and certain medications before providing a sample
  • The use of a sterile container provided by a fertility clinic with careful labeling as to the time of ejaculation, name, date of birth
Learn how is sperm obtained for cryopreservation in San Francisco bay-area

Fertility preservation with Embryo Cryopreservation

Embryo cryopreservation, also known as embryo freezing, is a fertility process typically used with in vitro fertilization (IVF) to develop and preserve embryos for future implantation. When IVF results in more viable embryos than needed for treatment, the remaining embryos are often frozen to maintain their viability for pregnancies in the future.

Many IVF children have younger siblings who were technically conceived at precisely the same time. However, the embryos from which later siblings grew were not implanted until years later.

Sometimes frozen embryos are donated as embryo donations to intended parents. While it is illegal in the U.S. to pay for an embryo, donors are typically reimbursed for specific costs related to the donation.

Reliable Embryo Cryopreservation in the San Francisco bay-area
Embryo Cryopreservation with Lane Fertility Institute

The Embryo Freezing Process

Embryo cryopreservation involves the following steps:

  1. Egg Collection. The embryo freezing process begins with the collection of eggs.
  2. Fertilization through IVF. Eggs are fertilized to form an embryo through in vitro fertilization and intracytoplasmic sperm injection, also known as ICSI. ICSI involves the introduction of only one single sperm to an egg.
  3. Storage. Embryo freezing is the last step in the process. Frozen embryos can be safely stored for years in the laboratory.

What is the success rate of frozen embryos leading to successful implantation and pregnancy?

The success rate for embryo implantation using thawed frozen embryos is close to that of using fresh embryos for implantation, thanks to vitrification technology.