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Ocycte (Egg) Freezing & Fertility Preservation

Fertility Preservation Oocyte (Egg) Freezing 

Women usually do not know they have fertility problems until they try to become pregnant. However, in certain circumstances, a woman may know ahead of time that her ability to reproduce is in jeopardy, allowing her to make the decision to preserve her fertility for the future. A common example of such a scenario is someone about to undergo chemotherapy or radiation treatment for cancer, both of which are known to damage a person's reproductive potential. Oocyte (egg) freezing, through a technique known as vitrification, offers women hope for improving fertility in their future.

Fertility Preservation Before Cancer Treatment

Chemotherapy and radiation can damage eggs or sperm and possibly render a patient infertile. Freezing a woman's eggs, or embryos created with sperm from her partner or an anonymous donor, allows her the chance to have a genetic child in the future. We understand the time constraints and emotional stress of patients facing cancer treatment, as well as the concern over the potential negative impact on future fertility. We offer expedited, compassionate care at a discounted rate for egg or embryo freezing for cancer treatment.

Simulation and Retrieval

Although it is possible to conduct oocyte freezing with immature eggs or even sections of ovarian tissue, the most effective technique for egg vitrification is to induce maturation of the eggs and collect them as would be done for IVF. Fertility medications are used to stimulate the development of multiple ovarian follicles and induce ovulation. Before the eggs can be released from the ovaries they are retrieved using a procedure known as ultrasound-guided transvaginal aspiration. During this procedure, an ultrasound probe is used to see the ovaries and surrounding structures while a very fine needle is guided through the vaginal wall and into each ovarian follicle. Gentle suction is used to remove the egg and fluid from each follicle, and it is then stored in an individual container, where it will be prepared for oocyte freezing.

Egg Freezing and Storage

Once the eggs are collected, they are examined and mixed with a cryoprotectant solution before being rapidly cooled. The traditional method for the cryopreservation of sperm, embryos, and eggs involves a slow freezing technique. This is effective for sperm and embryos, but problematic for egg freezing, as oocytes are large cells that contain a good deal of water and have a tendency to be damaged by the formation of ice crystals. Vitrification, however, is a technique that involves very quick freezing and does not allow ice crystals to form, thereby preventing damage to the eggs. Once the eggs have reached the appropriate temperature, they are transferred to long-term storage, where they will be kept in liquid nitrogen until they are ready to be used.

This advancement has now made this a valid option for women not affected by a medical condition, but also for those women waiting later in life to start a family.  Many women with other priorities can now freeze their eggs or embryos, preserving their future fertility for later in life. 

The process involves four stages - Ovarian stimulation, egg retrieval and freezing or storage.  Thawing of eggs with fertilization, embryo development and intrauterine transfer. To receive addition information please select this link to receive more information.

Thawing and Fertilization

When the patient is ready to use her frozen eggs, they will be retrieved from storage and gently warmed. After thawing, the eggs are examined and those that have survived the oocyte freezing process will be fertilized in vitro or through intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). The resulting embryos are transferred into the patient's uterus as normal.

Reproduction After Oocyte Freezing

Early attempts at egg freezing showed very little promise. The rate at which eggs survived the freezing and thawing process was very low and even lower was the rate of successful conception and pregnancy. Using the vitrification technique, however, fertility experts have seen significant increases in the numbers of oocytes that are viable after being frozen and thawed.

Click here to download our Fertility Preservation Brochure (PDF).

Contact Our Fort Lauderdale, Florida Area Practice

To learn more about oocyte (egg) freezing and how the process of vitrification may improve the chances of IVF success, contact us today at, 888.313.0307, or request an appointment. 

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