The New Hope Center for Reproductive Medicine and Fertility Clinic in Virginia Beach, VA offers oocytes, embryos, and sperm freezing for individuals, and couples who seek fertility preservation. For more information, call us today and schedule a consultation.
Cryopreservation of Embryos, Oocytes & Sperm
Cryopreservation is a method of controlled rate cooling used to freeze oocytes, embryos, and/or sperm. The goal is to keep the cells intact by producing stable conditions that preserve life while stored at very low temperatures. Cryopreservation has become an integral part of assisted reproductive technologies and allows for many more treatment options.
Embryo and Oocyte Vitrification:
Oocyte and embryo freezing have made significant leaps in success rates over the last 5-10 years. Technological advancements have dramatically increased the survival rate of frozen embryos and frozen oocytes, and likely the most significant advance in cryopreservation is a method called vitrification or “flash freezing”. Vitrification greatly reduces the risk of crystal formation that can occur when using older methods of freezing, because the cooling is rapid enough to outrun the potential for intracellular ice formation.
Oocytes and embryos are frozen by the same method using a cryoprotectant with the whole process taking only about 10-15 minutes. Embryos are typically frozen at the cleaved stage (day 3) or blastocyst stage (day 5 or 6), but can also be frozen on Day-1 which is just after fertilization has occurred. After the vitrification process is completed, the embryos or oocytes are placed in a cryolock storage device then cooled as quickly as possible by submerging the cryolock in liquid nitrogen, and then stored in cryotanks until they are used.
The New Hope Center has offered embryo cryopreservation since the clinic opened in 1997. However, oocyte cryopreservation was not successful until the development of rapid freezing. Since vitrification has become our standard of care at New Hope, we have seen high post-thaw survival of both embryos and oocytes, which in turn, can also lead to higher pregnancy rates.
Sperm is stored in liquid nitrogen at -196°C, and is most commonly referred to as Sperm Banking. New Hope offers private rooms for patient collection, and in most cases, an appointment to freeze a sperm sample can be accommodated within 24-48 hours. Prior to a patient’s first sample freeze, pre-testing for infection and sexually transmitted diseases must be completed in accordance with FDA requirements. Additionally, we recommend the patient have 2-5 days abstinence (no masturbation or intercourse) prior to this appointment.
Men wishing to cryopreserve a sperm sample should contact our office to schedule an appointment by phone: (757) 496-5370.
Upon arrival at the clinic, a New Hope Center (or LabCorp) Andrology Technician will greet you, and provide a sterile cup for collection of your sample. Once collected, the technician will complete an assessment of the specimen as follows: sperm count, motility, and volume. After, a cryoprotectant is added to the sample, and it is then divided out into multiple cryovials (1-4) for freezing.
Storage of Cryopreserved Specimens:
The New Hope Center offers short and long-term storage of frozen samples, at a monthly/yearly fee. Samples are stored onsite and monitored closely to ensure the temperature stays cold enough to maintain freezing. An alarm monitoring system is connected to all cryotanks, which will alert management 24/7, should an issue arise. Although the tanks are secure and robust, there is always the possibility of a natural disaster or unforeseen equipment failure that is unfortunately unpredictable. The cryotanks do not require a power source, so a power outage or failure will not impact the tanks or samples contained. In addition, the cryo-room has restricted access.
Patients planning to store samples for longer than one or two years, may find cost savings in transferring their samples out to a long-term storage facility, one that is accredited by the American Association of Tissue Banks, such as ReproTech.