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Cryobank
The Cryobank at the Berlin Sperm Bank (Berliner Samenbank)


Ice as a time capsule: cryopreservation of human sperm and (pre-fertilised) eggs

The Berlin Sperm Bank (Berliner Samenbank) preserves and stores not only donor sperm, but also

Arrowfertilised eggs
Arrowtesticular tissue
Arrowovarian tissue
Arroweggs


Fertilised eggs
(also known as pre-embryos or PN stages)

Modern reproductive medicine treatments (IVF, ICSI, TESE) very often result in eggs which are (actually: pre-) fertilised and which may be used for subsequent treatments in what is known as the cryo cycle. This can help spare time and effort on treatment, as well as averting risks and costs.

Eggs can be stored with no negative impact on their quality for many years.

The chances of pregnancy after the eggs are thawed are very good

Collaborating partners:
Praxis für Fertilität (Fertility Practice)

 
Storage straws Storage straws sealed with ball bearings
Egg straws in liquid nitrogen Egg straws in liquid nitrogen shortly before being sorted into a special tray
Special egg storage system being placed in the storage tank Special egg storage system being placed in the storage tank

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Testicular tissue

a) If it is determined that the man suffers from azoospermia, it is often possible to obtain sperm directly from the testicular tissue (TESE - TEsticular Sperm Extraction).

The surgical procedure on the man is nowadays mostly performed in advance of the woman undergoing the corresponding hormone treatment and subsequent IVF/ICSI.
This is because the treatment, which is not inexpensive or free of risks, should only commence when it has been confirmed that sperm cells are available.

b) If the man has been diagnosed with cancer and cannot rule out that he would like to have children later, testicular tissue can be taken before the cancer is treated (radiotherapy or chemotherapy) and stored frozen for several years.

The chances of pregnancy after the eggs are thawed are very good (ICSI only)

Collaborating partners:
Dr. Andreessen, Dr.Geiges, hospitals

 
Testicular tissue being prepared for freezing Testicular tissue being prepared for freezing
Effect of the cryoprotective (freezing protection) agent
Effect of the cryoprotective (freezing protection) agent - also shown are the straws, known as 'Minitübs'
'Minitübs' straws are placed in the storage tank secured in an aluminium holder 'Minitübs' straws are placed in the storage tank secured in an aluminium holder

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Ovarian tissue


If the woman has been diagnosed with cancer and cannot rule out that she would like to have children later, ovarian tissue can be taken (in most cases by laparoscopy) before the cancer is treated (radiotherapy or chemotherapy) and stored frozen for several years.

The chances of pregnancy after thawing and reimplantation in the woman's body are currently still very limited

Collaborating partners:
Praxis für Fertilität (Fertility Practice), hospitals

 

The ovarian tissue is cut into thin disks The ovarian tissue is cut into thin disks
The disks of tissue are placed in straws known as 'Minitübs' The disks of tissue are placed in straws known as 'Minitübs'

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(Unfertilised) eggs

If the woman has been diagnosed with cancer and cannot rule out that she would like to have children later, ovarian tissue can be taken (in most cases by laparoscopy or transvaginal aspiration) before the cancer is treated (radiotherapy or chemotherapy) and stored frozen for several years.

Luckily, it is nowadays possible to use a special procedure (vitrification) to store unfertilised eggs as well, particularly in cases in which the woman does not have a steady partner at the time cryopreservation is performed. The thawing rate is approximately 98 %. This means that after a given period (e.g. 5 years) following cancer treatment, these eggs can be thawed so that they can be fertilised using sperm from a partner (or donor).

If the woman has a partner at the time cryopreservation is performed, (pre-)fertilised eggs can also be frozen using a "slow-freezing" process. However, the thawing rate is not quite as good as it is with vitrification.

Collaborating partners:
Praxis für Fertilität (Fertility Practice), hospitals

 

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