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Cryopreservation or freezing is a method of cell or tissue preservation so that they can be used in future. This method is used widely in IVF treatment programs. The principle of this method is to stop all the biological processes in cells and tissues.
Containers with liquid nitrogen (temperature 196°С) are used for freezing and storing. Temperature like this prevents the cells from metabolic activity, and their life cycle intermits. 


How Do We Freeze Materials?

The intracellular fluid is the major danger for cryopreservation, because when frozen the water turns into ice crystals that can damage cell and tissue structure. That’s why the main challenge of cryopreservation is to mitigate the risk of intracellular ice formation.

There are two ways to overcome this problem. In laboratory practice these methods are called ‘slow freezing’ and ‘fast freezing/vitrification’.

Way One – slow cell dehydration: we remove liquid from it and replace it with cryoprotector.

Way Two – we form a vitreous structure omitting the process of crystallization.

Each of these ways has its own advantages and disadvantages. Their usage depends on cell and tissue types individually, because all of them have their own biological characteristics. For example, the best way to freeze oocytes is to vitrify them; for ovarian tissues, on the contrary, we use slow freezing. 


What Can Be Frozen and Stored?

The basic material for cryopreservation in the IVF laboratory consists of ejaculate, testicular biopsy samples, oocytes and embryos at different developmental stages. What is more, at present researches are being widely conducted to implement testicular tissue cryopreservation with its later transplantation.


What Do We Need Cryopreservation For?

  1. The main indication for cryopreservation in IVF programs is extra embryo preservation after the embryo transfer.
  2. Embryo cryopreservation can also be implemented as part of IVF programs with a risk of hyperstimulation, with the usage of donor oocytes or donor embryos. It can as well be the stage of a surrogacy program.
  3. Sperm and testicular tissue cryopreservation follows the biopsy and then is used for fertilization in IVF programs in certain cases of pathospermia.
  4. Another indication for cryopreservation consists in the maintenance of male and female fertility if you are going to undergo ovary or spermary chemotherapy, radiotherapy or surgical aggression.
  5. You should also consider preservation of your fertility if you have genetic predisposition to early menopause.
  6. There exists a modern tendency to perform a ‘social’ cryopreservation based on woman’s decision to postpone conception and pregnancy and build her career first.

3 days old embryos with signs of damage after the freezing/thawing

3 days old embryos with no signs of of damage after the freezing/thawing

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