If you are travelling abroad for fertility treatments, you might need to ship sperm, eggs, or embryos. Cryoport have the life science industry’s most advanced logistics technology ensuring end-to-end expert support, quality, safety and stability from start to finish.
If you are travelling abroad for fertility treatments, you might need to ship sperm, eggs, or embryos. Depending on your procedures and if you are using any donor materials, you’ll need a company to help you with the shipping of frozen embryos, sperm, or eggs. However, assessing the different options can be overwhelming. It’s not always easy to understand the process nor choose a reliable cryo shipper. That’s why we’ve compiled this guide to understanding cryo shipping – read ahead to learn more.
Depending on your procedures and if you are using any donor materials, you’ll need a company to help you with the shipping of frozen embryos, sperm, or eggs. However, assessing the different options can be overwhelming. It’s not always easy to understand the process nor choose a reliable cryo shipper.
Trusted IVFbabble partner CryoStork has over 10 years experience in shipping reproductive materials.
Cryo shipping is the process of transporting genetic material, such as sperm, eggs, and embryos, from one clinic to another. Most reproductive tissue is stored in process called vitrification, which is far more effective than the slow freezing procedures of the past. Vitrification is a demanding and complex process that doesn’t have any room for error.
With vitrification, your embryos and other genetic materials need to stay below -120 Celsius at all times, or they can become damaged and unusable. On the other hand, slow-frozen cells can handle a brief rise in temperature up to -20 Celsius degree. That’s why cryo shipping in the past was slightly less technical – there was slightly more leeway for accidental rises in temperature. However, the overall success rates with the thawed materials were far lower – vitrification is by far the better choice.
For long term storage, your reproductive tissues will be stored in cryo storage tanks filled with liquid nitrogen kept at -196 Celsius. At this temperature, all of the cell’s biological processes are suspended, enabling them to be thawed and used for IVF. Your eggs, sperm, and/or embryos can be safely cryo stored for decades, as long as the tanks are kept at a stable low temperature. This requires regular refilling with liquid nitrogen.
For shipping, the genetic materials are removed from the tank and placed in a shipping dewar. The dewar cannot be filled with liquid nitrogen, as no UK or EU airlines allow it on board. As a result, the shipping dewar is filled with “retention foam,” a sort of sponge that absorbs the liquid nitrogen and releases only its vapours.
While it’s normal to worry about the integrity of the shipping dewar, it can actually maintain a sufficiently low temperature of between -150 and -190 Celsius for several days, and sometimes even more than a week. This is more than enough time to allow for the dewar to reach its destination, even when accounting for potential delays.
When the shipping dewar arrives at your destination clinic, they’ll remove the tissues and re-immerse them in a cryo storage tank.
The laws around storing and shipping sperm, eggs, and embryos are different in every country.
For instance, the UK only allows the storage of eggs, sperm, and embryos for up to ten years, except in rare circumstances. So, as you approach your freezing deadlines, you might choose to transport your gametes to other countries with less stringent restrictions.
For a variety of reasons, your partner may not be able to be with you during the IVF process. In that case, you can arrange to have their sperm or eggs transported to your clinic’s location.
In other cases, you might have found an egg or sperm donor in another country. Some countries don’t make egg or sperm donation very easy, and it can be a lot simpler to source a donor in another country and have it sent to your IVF clinic in a shipping dewar.
Your clinic will be able to advise you on the laws and regulations about importing donor sperm or eggs. Similarly, surrogacy can often require the cryo shipping of genetic material to the surrogate’s home country.
If you need to move your eggs, sperm, or embryos to a different country, you need to find a cryo shipper who can guarantee a speedy delivery and safe, functional shipping dewars.
Shipping sperm and shipping frozen embryos is a relatively safe and successful process, but accidents and mix-ups do happen. Of course, the biggest risk of cryo shipping is a faulty dewar that causes your embryos to rise in temperature or thaw completely.
Another common problem is a mix-up or confusion when checking in with the airline or going through immigration/customs, delaying your courier and potentially causing your dewar to thaw. That’s why it’s always so important to work with a trusted cryoshipper who has experience working in your clinic’s country.
We are here to protect and care for your precious gametes and embryos.
We use a smart data logger system on all our shipments; it constantly monitors in ‘near-real time’ and the server updates every 5 minutes. Our software monitors location, the tilt of the shipper, humidity, internal and external temperature, shock events, and pressure. The data is available to both the sending and receiving clinic during and after the shipment.
With over 25 years experience