EGG FREEZING / OOCYTE VITRIFICATION – NO LONGER EXPERIMENTAL

Cryopreservation of eggs has remained a challenge until recently. Egg is a large cell with a high water content. The older slow freezing methods could not completely prevent the ice crystal formation which damages the cell during freezing and thawing. This has been virtually eliminated by a relatively new technique called Vitrification or ultra rapid cooling.

Studies have documented comparable results with ICSI/IVF on vitrified/warmed oocytes and fresh oocytes in younger women both in terms of fertilization and clinical pregnancy. Available data on the incidence of congenital abnormalities in the children born using vitrified/warmed eggs, though limited are also reassuring with no significant increase in risk when compared with conventional IVF/ICSI and the general population. American Society for Reproductive Medicine in January 2013 lifted the label ‘experimental” from oocyte vitrification.

Successful oocyte vitrification program simplifies oocyte donation programs.

There are various other indications where it can be used.

Medical indications like cancers in women who do not have a partner, when the cancer itself or the treatment thereof is likely to result in loss of fertility.

Certain women prefer to freeze supernumerary eggs instead of embryos during IVF owing to ethical reasons.

Elective or social egg freezing.  Career aspirations, waiting for the right partner, high cost of living are some of the reasons why women choose to postpone pregnancy. However both the quality and number of eggs available for pregnancy decreases with age. Oocyte freezing is rapidly gaining popularity in helping these women preserve their fertility. However using this technology for elective egg freezing should be done only after educating oneself of all the pros and cons of the process

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