Understanding the Steps to Cryopreserve Reproductive Materials 

Choosing to cryogenically preserve and store reproductive material is how many families plan for their future fertility journeys. This method of assisted reproductive technology (ART) is commonly referred to as “freezing” and can be used to preserve both gametes and zygotes.  

While many are familiar with these terms, understanding the process of freezing reproductive materials is less universal. Let’s explore the use case for cryopreservation, its step-by-step process, and how Cryoport Systems’ services lead the industry in transporting cryogenically preserved material. 

Why Choose to Cryopreserve 

There isn’t a single set reason for why someone would choose to cryogenically preserve their reproductive materials. Typically, those who freeze their reproductive materials do so to preserve them for later use. Reproductive procedures such as in vitro fertilization (IVF) can result in the formation of multiple embryos. In this case, intended parents choose to cryopreserve the extra embryos for future family planning. 

Fertility procedures are only one example. The following encompasses examples of other reasons why intended parents would choose to cryopreserve their materials. 

  • Cancer Treatments – Many patients undergoing cancer treatments choose to preserve their reproductive material before they begin medical procedures. Specifically, chemotherapy can result in the loss of fertility in both men and women. Preserving reproductive materials before starting chemotherapy can give hope to those who wish to grow their family post-treatments. 
  • Later-in-life Family Planning – Many people are deciding to put off starting a family in favor of pursuing other goals like higher education and career advancements. In the U.S., birthrates have declined for women in their 20s and raised for women in their late 30s and 40s. Cryopreserving reproductive materials gives intended parents the ability to plan for future families. 
  • Financial Considerations A recent study surveyed nearly 2,000 women about their views on waiting to start a family. 60% of participants reported financial constraints as the number one reason for why they’re choosing to delay childbearing. Cryopreserving reproductive materials gives people more time to reach their financial goals now before they start their family later down the line.                                                                                    

The Steps of Cryopreservation 

The cryopreservation process begins at your chosen clinic or healthcare facility with the retrieval of eggs or sperm. For those choosing to freeze their embryos, an embryologist will fertilize the eggs with sperm to create the embryo. From there, the reproductive materials will be transported to a lab to begin the cryopreservation process.  

Vitrification is the most popular method of freezing reproductive materials. According to the Cleveland Clinic, vitrification encompasses the following steps. 

  1. Addition of cryoprotective agent (CPA) — CPA is a liquid agent that protects the cells from forming ice crystals that could harm the material.
  2. Liquid nitrogen immersion – The materials are then placed immediately into tanks of liquid nitrogen. The liquid nitrogen preserves the material at -196°C. It’s extremely important that the materials do not fluctuate in temperature from this point. 
  3. Moved to storage – The cryopreserved materials are then placed into small straw-like containers and labeled with your information. These straws are stored and kept at -196°C typically within the designated clinic and can be thawed for future use. 

Transporting Cryopreserved Materials 

As mentioned, it’s extremely important to maintain the temperature of cryopreserved reproductive materials. Deviations in temperature can render the material useless and affect one’s family planning.  

Cryoport Systems is the most trusted provider of safe transportation for frozen reproductive materials. Our team understands the significance of maintaining cryopreserved materials in their intended state, and our services have been built to compliantly transport these materials at cryogenic temperatures.  

Our Cryoport Express® shipping system is the reliable container for transporting material of this type. Its diverse security features ensure your materials reach their destination in perfect condition. They leverage: 

  • Veri-Clean® Cryoport Systems’ dedicated disinfecting procedure to ensure the integrity and purity of your shipment through the extensive decontamination of all cryo-shippers and stainless-steel accessories. 
  • Smartpak™ condition monitoring system – A device included inside every shipment system that establishes visibility of both the conditions and location of your valuable sample throughout the entire shipment process and provides you with the data to prove that your sample integrity was maintained during transit. 
  • Chain of Compliance® – Our assurance of full traceability of the equipment and processes supporting each shipment, including chain of custody, chain of condition, and chain of identity. 



For more information on how Cryoport Systems can bring peace-of-mind to your reproductive materials’ transport journey, reach out to our team on our website.