Cryopreservation

The term cryopreservation consists of the Greek word cryo (meaning ‘cold’) and ‘preserve’ (to maintain, save, store) and means the freezing and storage of cells and tissue.

These can be stored (cryopreserved) in liquid nitrogen for years at a temperature of minus 196 degrees Celsius without becoming damaged or ageing. This is a special procedure, in which the tissue can be protected by certain liquids and frozen in a way that protects it, in order to avoid damage to the cells. Cryopreservation is an important part of fertility medicine and is becoming more and more significant.

The following types of cells and tissues can be cryopreserved on our premises:

Fertilised ova (which are said to be in “pre-nuclear stages”):

The cryopreservation of fertilised ova is the most important or the most frequent application within the scope of fertility treatment. During IVF or ICSI treatment, more fertilised ova can result than are required for the embryo transfer. In the event that the treatment does not lead to a pregnancy or if a sibling child is desired after successful treatment, these can be thawed for a new embryo transfer. In treatment with cryopreserved fertilised ova, the chances of pregnancy are somewhat lower than in treatment with “fresh” ova but the woman does not need to undergo repeated injections, puncture, and anaesthesia for fresh ova to be obtained. Overstimulation is excluded.

Unfertilised ova

As a “fertility reserve” (www.fertiprotekt.de), in the case of a woman who has cancer and does not have a partner, unfertilised ova can by cryopreserved before chemotherapy and/or radiation, in order to enable a pregnancy to take place even after the treatment. We are organised in the “Fertiprotekt” network.

Also as what is known as “social freezing” (fertility preservation) this procedure is increasingly being used. Young women can have ova cryopreserved for the (possible) fulfilment of their desire to have a child at a later point in time or at a more advanced age.

Sperm

Men can also have sperm cryopreserved as a “fertility reserve” before chemotherapy or as security for an ICSI treatment in the case of poor sperm findings. Cryopreserved sperm from the donor are always used for treatment with donor sperm.

Testicular tissue

If a man has no sperm in his semen (e.g. due to closure of semen ducts or following sterilisation) these can be obtained from testicular tissue (TESE) After collection, this must be cryopreserved until it is used in ICSI treatment.

Ovarian tissue

In the event of cancer, ovarian tissue can be taken from a woman before chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy and cryopreserved for later “reimplantation” after the end of treatment. If this is successful, then, in the ideal case, a pregnancy is possible in the natural way.

Cryopreservation does not cause any defects in the resulting children.

Cryopreservation of egg or sperm cells or germ cell tissue can be the only way to preserve fertility in the case of malignant diseases requiring chemotherapy and/or radiation.

 

In the case of a planned germ cell-damaging therapy, the costs are covered by statutory health insurance in accordance with the guidelines for the cryopreservation of egg or sperm cells or germ cell tissue.

After the diagnosis of “azoospermia”, we had almost given up our dream of having children. The Dortmund Fertility Centre gave us courage and after successful TESE followed by ICSI treatment we became the happy parents of a boy. Some time later, we then had another treatment with the frozen embryos, which gave our son a healthy sister.

Verena S.

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