Cryopreservation of sperm and zygotes

Assisted reproductive technology for patients undergoing medical treatment

Cryopreservation of sperm 

Sperm may be kept alive for long periods by freezing in liquid nitrogen at -196° C. The seminal fluid is cryopreserved for the following reasons:

  • chemio and/or radiotherapy
  • sperm retrieval by means of TESE, microTESE & MESA
  • reasons of a psychological nature (difficulty in collection on the day of intrauterine insemination and in vitro fertilization)

According to Swiss Federal Law, the maximum cryopreservation period of 5 years may be extended if patients undergo medical treatment or engage in activities that could cause irreversible sterility. The proportion of living thawed sperm amounts to approximately 40% and they ensure PMA technique results similar to those obtained using freshly ejaculated sperm. Scientific studies show that cryopreservation does not damage sperm genetically. Over the last 50 years, thousands of perfectly healthy babies have been born in this way.

Cryopreservation of zygotes 

Zygotes are defined as an egg cell fertilized by a sperm before fusion of the paternal and maternal genetic complements. The possibility of freezing zygotes (egg cell fertilized by a sperm before fusion of the paternal and maternal genetic complements) obtained using IVF-ET and ICSI techniques that are supernumerary to requirements for embryo transfer means that the cumulative possibility of pregnancy may be increased for each egg retrieval. Zygotes may be kept alive for long periods by freezing them in liquid nitrogen at -196° C.

By means of this procedure, it is possible to carry out several embryo transfers with a single hormone stimulation and a single egg retrieval, thus avoiding the need to repeat a full cycle of hormone stimulation and egg retrieval. The possibility of carrying out several embryo transfers for each egg retrieval allows us to increase the overall probability of pregnancy.

Swiss law allows the cryopreservation of supernumerary zygotes for up to 5 years. The pregnancy rate achieved by transferring cryopreserved zygotes is similar to that obtained by transferring fresh embryos. The percentage survival rate of zygotes after thawing is approximately 70%. The embryos are frozen only when they cannot be transferred immediately to the uterus due to the patient’s state of health, which could not be foreseen at the time of fertilization (e.g. in the case of ovarian hyper stimulation).

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