One of the newest procedures to be added to our In Vitro Fertilization program is egg freezing. The IVF-Fertility Division of Women's Clinic, Ltd. began egg freezing in October 2009.
Success world-wide with egg freezing began with the introduction of the improved freezing process called vitrification. As the technique of vitrification has become more refined, the data with egg freezing has greatly improved, just as it has with vitrification of embryos. Worldwide pregnancy rates from vitrified eggs now approach “fresh” In Vitro Fertilization rates.
The use of egg freezing bypasses the concerns that some patients have related to embryo freezing as eggs are frozen without exposure to sperm and therefore fertilization dose not occur. Egg freezing is akin to freezing sperm. Utilizing the option of egg freezing allows for a reduction in the number of fresh eggs that are inseminated. This helps to limit the number of multiple pregnancies while at the same time giving the opportunity for future pregnancy attempts without repeating the entire IVF process. The frozen eggs can subsequently be warmed and individually inseminated a few at a time. Once frozen, these eggs appear to remain viable for many years, just like embryos. Additionally, by freezing eggs, the effect of advancing age is effectively eliminated. This then helps to preserve the fertility potential of the female partner to the time of the original egg retrieval procedure. This is very important as fertility clearly decreases with advancing age, particularly as one goes beyond age 35.
The vitrification process involves the use of concentrated solutions of cryoprotectants, which are solutions that help prevent freezing damage to cells. This allows solidification during the rapid cooling process without forming ice crystals. The process occurs in a matter of minutes. During the subsequent warming phase, the vitrified eggs do not go through the potential physical damage caused by ice crystals within the cells as associated with earlier freezing techniques. The survival of vitrified eggs after warming has been reported at over 80%. Egg vitrification is an FDA-approved technique, and is supported by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine as a standard of care.
The IVF-Fertility Division of Women's Clinic, Ltd. is quite excited to offer this option to our patients.