Cryopreservation is freezing tissue or cells in order to preserve it for the future.

Cryopreservation is used in infertility programs to freeze and store sperm, eggs or to freeze all the embryos or “leftover” embryos  from an in vitro fertilization cycle.

The reports of increased risk of congenital anomalies in fathers of advanced age go back in time. In a study from British Columbia it was reported that the risk of neural tube defects, congenital cataract, upper limb reduction defects, and Down Syndrome was increased with increasing paternal age, and a study focused on heart defects from the same group showed a general pattern of paternal age-related increasing risk for ventricular and atrial septal defects and patent ductus arteriosus.

Older men are fathering children. In a 1993 study from England and Wales, fathers 35–54 years of age accounted for 25% of live births. Ten years later, these percentages increased to 40%. Likewise, the number of fathers in the 50–54 age group have seen a notable increase

The literature has shown children conceived from advanced paternal age fathers are more likely to develop certain pathologies. While multiple pathologic states have been linked to advanced paternal age, multiple studies have shown that schizophrenia and autism spectrum disorders are conditions on which patients need to be counselled.

The rate of schizophrenia is increased in association with advanced paternal age. While schizophrenia is known to affect 0.5%–1.5% of the population, children born to men older than 45 were found to be twice as likely, and to men older than 50 nearly 3 times as likely, to have schizophrenia.

Should males cryopreserve sperm when young?

Given both the biologic and financial implications of cryopreservation, it would be difficult to recommend young men bank sperm only to offset the deleterious effects of aging on semen parameters.Currently there are no specific guidelines regarding semen testing specifically for older males or the use of PGD/PGS for advanced paternal age as the sole indication. Men must still be counseled about these risks, but when compared with the cost and the effects of cryopreservation on semen, there is no literature showing an indication for young men to preserve sperm to offset the deleterious effects aging has on fertility.

There are two methods used for freezing in IVF labs:

  • Slow freezing
  • Vitrification (ultra-rapid freezing)

Currently almost all labs are using vitrification. Our IVF program also uses vitrification to freeze  embryos  – we see excellent success rates with frozen embryo transfer cycles.