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New hope found to aid IVF couples

A new technique for rapidly freezing sperm could offer hope to couples undergoing IVF, researchers say. Experts found that fast-freezing sperm preserves far more of its motility than present slow-freezing method.

They hope the technique could help men with low sperm counts as well as those having their sperm frozen before undergoing cancer treatment. And men who are HIV-positive could have their sperm safely frozen in a way that dramatically cuts the risk of disease for future children.

The study, from experts in Chile and Germany, will be presented at the World Congress of Fertility and Sterility in Munich. Slow-freezing techniques have several drawbacks, and retain only about 30 per cent to 40 per cent of sperm activity. But rapid freezing, also known as vitrification, allows that figure to rise to almost 80 per cent. Vitrification is already used to quick-freeze eggs and embryos with success, allowing spare ones to be used in IVF at a later date.