Differences Between Egg Freezing And Sperm Freezing

Fertility preservation techniques are a way of decreasing the chances of infertility affecting your chance to build a family. Not everyone wants to have a child right away, but when there’s an upcoming change in circumstances or medical treatment that can have a possibility of affecting your fertility, many people want to have the security of knowing starting a family won’t be impossible in the future.

Two of the main types of fertility preservation techniques are egg freezing and sperm freezing. Both have their distinct uses and pros and cons. Find out what the main differences between the two are here.

Egg Freezing

Egg freezing is a way of preserving eggs at the peak of a woman’s fertility, reducing the pressure to have a child before this peak is over. It’s one of the most popular fertility preservation techniques and is used in conjunction with IVF as a method of conception.

How does it work?

The egg freezing process involves screening to check for risk of contamination, the use of medication to boost egg production, and then egg collection which is carried out under sedation.

Once collected, the eggs are frozen by being cooled to a suitable temperature and stored in tanks of liquid nitrogen. A significant number of eggs are normally collected to ensure that individuals have the maximum chance of fertility in the future.

How safe is it?

Freezing eggs is very safe. The only real risks are the impact of side effects from the egg production boosting medication, and the chance of miscarriage. However, the chance of either situation occurring is quite low.

How effective is it?

The number of people opting for egg freezing as a method of fertility preservation is relatively small. Between 2010 and 2016 roughly 500 babies were born from frozen eggs. Recent research has shown that ‘fast-frozen’ eggs can have an average thawing survival rate of 90%-95%.

Generally, the figures that are given for success rates vary depending on age. They are currently quoted as being approximately:

80% chance of one live birth if 15 frozen eggs beneath the age of 35
80% chance of one live birth if 20 frozen eggs between the ages of 35-37
75% chance of one live birth if 30 frozen eggs between the ages of 38-40
50% chance of one live birth if 30 frozen eggs between the ages of 40-42

Pros and Cons

Pros Cons
It’s a safe procedure Pregnancy isn’t guaranteed
No worries about diminishing egg quality It can be costly financially
Success rates are quite high

Sperm Freezing

An alternative method of fertility preservation is sperm freezing. This is a similar concept to egg freezing but involves freezing a certain amount of semen containing sperm instead. Frozen sperm is often used in fertility preservation between couples, and it’s the method of storage for the sperm of sperm donors in IVF treatments.

How does it work?

Like egg freezing, sperm freezing patients will first have screening tests and then sign a consent form detailing how long the sperm can be kept for.

They’ll then be asked to produce a sample of sperm which will be frozen and mixed with a cryoprotectant to prevent any damage being done during the frozen period. The sample is then submerged in liquid nitrogen until it’s needed.

The sperm is held in different containers (called straws) so that not all of it needs to be thawed at once.

How safe is it?

As far as anyone can tell, there are literally no risks involved with sperm freezing. However, not all sperm will survive the process.

How effective is it?

IVF using frozen sperm is just as effective as with fresh sperm. The current figures for IVF live birth success rates depend on age, but they’re generally quoted as:

40-43% for a woman under 35 years old
33-36% for a woman between the ages of 35-37
13-18% for a woman between the ages of 40-44

Pros and Cons

Pros Cons
There are no health risks involved at all It can be costly to store sperm for a long time
It’s just as effective as fresh sperm during IVF Not all sperm survive the thawing process
Frozen sperm can be stored for up to 10 years You have to be able to produce the sperm on the day of freezing

If you’re interested in egg or sperm freezing as a method of preserving your fertility, get in touch with us today or read more about our sperm and egg freezing success rates, processes, or prices.