FERTILITY PRESERVATION
Fertility preservation aims to safeguard one’s fertility. Fertility preservation, at the core of this concept, makes use of cryopreservation (freezing of gametes or genetic material). We cryopreserve sperm, eggs, embryos, testis biopsy samples and ovarian tissue.
WHAT IS FERTILITY PRESERVATION?

Fertility preservation is an umbrella term for various fertility procedures, all of which aim to safeguard one’s fertility. Fertility preservation makes use of a method of freezing gametes or genetic material known as cryopreservation. Cryopreservation has two subsequent categories: slow-freezing and vitrification.

The slow-freezing method of cryopreservation involves freezing samples by making use of various step-wise methods that are time and temperature sensitive. The idea behind this method is to freeze a sample gradually, so decreasing the temperature over time until the desired storage temperature of -197 degrees Celsius is obtained via the use of liquid nitrogen vapor (during the first few steps) and liquid nitrogen (final steps).

Vitrification, which is a newer and more commonly used protocol, makes use of rapid freezing via liquid nitrogen submersion. Prior to the submersion of the sample into liquid nitrogen, the sample undergoes a processes of dehydration with the use of various vitrification media concentrations and steps.

When should you start considering Fertility Preservation?

Sperm freezing:

  • Severe Oligozoospermia patients (low count) where the aim would be to ‘pool’ sperm.
  • Prior to cancer treatment
  • Vasectomy patients

Testis biopsy freezing:

  • Immediately after testicular trauma
  • Azoospermia patients (as long as there is no testicular failure)
  • Severe Oligozoospermia patients

Egg freezing:

  • Patients nearing the age of 35 years old who still wish to procreate
  • Patients who are certain they want to procreate later in life
  • Prior to cancer treatment

Embryo freezing:

  • Couples who are certain they want to start a family later on in life can have the option to make embryos using genetically sound material (younger age) to implant at the later stage

Ovarian tissue freezing:

  • Prior to cancer treatment
  • Prior to cancer treatment for prepubescent girls

THE PROCESS & WHAT TO EXPECT

 

Patients can expect different scenarios for the different freezing options. There are 2 main scenarios that one can expect are non-invasive and invasive treatment options.

Sperm freezing is the only process that is non-invasive. To freeze one’s sperm, a sperm sample needs to be passed at our clinic (in a private room), which is subsequently frozen on the same day within the laboratory by an embryologist.

Testis biopsy samples, eggs, embryos and ovarian tissue cryopreservation all involve different (but very similar) forms of invasive interaction. These treatments require light anaesthesia whereby the eggs are removed from the ovaries (in the case of egg freezing and the beginning stage for embryo freezing), testicular tissue is removed from testicles (in the case of a testis biopsy freezing) and ovarian tissue is removed (in the case of ovarian tissue freezing), respectively. For embryo freezing, the retrieved eggs then need to be inseminated and grown in the laboratory for 5-6 days in order for some to reach blastocyst stage. At blastocyst stage, the best quality embryos are then frozen. To use any of the frozen samples, a thawing procedure takes place whereby the tissue/gamete/embryo is thawed and then used to transfer back into the uterus (in the case of an embryo), inseminated and grown to blastocyst stage (in the case for thawed eggs),  or processed and used for an insemination within an ICSI cycle (in the case of testis biopsy sperm), respectively. The use of thawed ovarian tissue is still in an experimental stage, however, there are a few exciting developments regarding the use of this tissue in the pipeline.

Still have questions?
Should you require any additional information, please contact the clinic directly and one of our friendly staff members will happily assist you.
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