What is egg freezing?
Egg freezing or cryopreservation is an assisted reproductive technique that allows women to extract froze and store their eggs. This technique has been used to enable women to postpone pregnancy to a later date.
The reasons why a woman chooses to freeze her eggs may be either health or social. Health reasons concern a large number of women, but there are a greater number of women who, choose to freeze their ova for personal/social reasons.
Cryopreservation of the oocytes can be considered for a variety of reasons:
- Women with cancer requiring chemotherapy and/or pelvic radiation therapy that may affect fertility.
- Women who have endometriosis and other benign ovarian cysts.
The most common social reasons are:
- Career: the completion, or the achievement of some professional goals
- Lack of partner. It also includes women who already have a child and want to maintain their fertility for a longer period of time.
Before you agree to freeze and save your eggs, the specialist doctor will explain the procedure, taking into account your medical history and personalizing the entire procedure in order to have the highest chances of success. Our Unit gives you the opportunity to discuss with special advisors your feelings and any concerns you may have.
You should check for infectious diseases, including HIV and hepatitis B and C, RPR.
You shall prepare and fill a notarial deed to declare that you want to freeze your ova in our Center.
You should then undergo ovarian stimulation for the development of multiple follicles.
When your eggs mature, you will be subjected to ultrasound-guided oocyte retrieval, a process that takes approximately 5-10 minutes. You’ll be under light anesthesia so you won’t feel anything during the procedure.
At this step of the process the ova are frozen by the vitrification method and stored in liquid nitrogen at -196 °C.
In the future, when you are ready to get pregnant, your eggs will be thawed and the remaining steps of IVF will be followed, ie embryo transfer of a certain number of embryos to the uterus. The extra embryos resulting may be frozen using the same method for future use.
Not at all. All steps are quite simple. The process is completed within 10-14 days. During this period, we use the appropriate medication to cause several eggs to mature. The maturity is monitored by ultrasound and blood tests, while the process of oocyte sampling takes just a few minutes. After a brief check-up, the woman leaves and can return to her daily activity.
The eggs may be kept frozen for an unlimited period of time. However it is recommended for the women to use them until the age of 50.
The American Assisted Reproduction Company (ASRM) considers the egg vitrification method as suitable for daily usage, while studies of children born with this method prove also that it is an absolutely safe method.
With the new freezing technique, vitrification, frozen eggs are as effective as fresh. Freezing 8 ova before 36 is considered a safe number for pregnancy. For women aged after 38 it is required a larger number.
Over the last decade, cryopreservation is at least five times higher, especially to older women. It is commonly known that fertility has limits. At the age of 40, 70-80% of oocytes have chromosomal disorders, which limit effectiveness and require a personalized approach.
The probability of having children depends on the number of cryopreserved eggs and the age of the woman. Age of 36-38 years old seems to be a limiting point without excluding older ages. Fertility must always be checked in order to choose the appropriate protocol.
Cryopreservation has been in existence since the 1980s, but the stagnation was very limited.
The earliest technique of cryopreservation, requires about 100 eggs to become pregnant. Nowadays, with the new “vitrification” cryopreservation technique, only 8 to 15 eggs are required.
Oocytes due to their size, high water content and the arrangement of chromosomes in the mitotic spindle, are particularly vulnerable to the formation of ice crystals during the cryopreservation process. Now, using the “vitrification” technique, using new high concentration cryoprotectant solutions, with super fast freezing, the cells acquire a compact shape like glass without the formation of ice crystals. This increases significantly the survival of ova and the rates of pregnancies and births.
It is similar to the IVF procedure. In many cases, insurance funds provide medicines free of charge.