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What is egg freezing?

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5 fertility expert(s) answered this question

Answer from: Melvin H. Thornton, Associate Professor

Gynaecologist, Medical Director & IVF Director Global Fertility & Genetics
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Egg freezing is a hot topic right now. And the reason why it’s a hot topic is for many years we did not understand how to freeze eggs. The human egg is made up of about 80% water, and imagine trying to freeze something that’s full of water, you’re going to get ice crystals that form or ice formation. This ice crystal; when you thaw the egg out then in the past would damage the chromosomes and you wouldn’t be able to use those eggs to have a healthy child in the future. But in 2012, the American Society of reproductive medicine determined that egg freezing was no longer experimental because of a procedure called vitrification. With vitrification what we do is that we remove the water from the egg prior to freezing it and then we undergo what’s called Flash Freezing, in other words, a process where you freeze it rapidly. And by doing that, it’s been shown that your success rates with a frozen egg from a healthy egg that’s frozen have the same success rate as a fresh egg. So it allows women the chance to freeze their eggs at a younger age and hopefully never use those frozen eggs but they do have to use those frozen eggs in the future. They’ll have the same success rate as if they were using the fresh egg.

 

Answer from: Ahmed Amer, DipRCPath, MBA, MSc, MEng

Embryologist, Senior Embryologist ARGC Limited
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Egg freezing is the procedure that we do cryopreserve eggs to keep them in liquid nitrogen and store them for the future. This process basically involves undergoing an IVF cycle so that means controlled ovarian hyperstimulation where injections are given to you to stimulate the ovaries to create or form or grow more than one follicle so that we can eventually  pick up the eggs from these follicles via a procedure and then we fix and refreeze them. The freezing process itself is highly technical and quite complex as very delicate, however modern techniques now allow us to freeze much better and increase success rates than it used to be in the past. Once we freeze those eggs they’re stored in liquid nitrogen at minus 197 degrees celsius for your use in the future.

Answer from: Ioannis Zervomanolakis, PhD

Gynaecologist, Obstetrician Hygeia IVF Athens
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When we use the term egg freezing, we actually understand that we have to have mature oocytes that we are going to take through vaginal oocyte pickup. And then we freeze them in the lab during the so-called vitrification procedure.

Answer from: Jessica Subira, M.D. Consultant in Gynecology, Sub-specialist in Reproductive Medicine

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Egg freezing or oocyte vitrification has two main parts: the first one would be what we call ovarian stimulation and this is not different to what we would be doing in a normal IVF cycle. We will give you drugs to get your ovaries stimulated and for that we usually need around a couple of weeks as with all the ovarian stimulations, we try to start with your period but we can do a random start as well especially for cancer patients because we don’t have time and then we have to start any time because we can’t really face a delay waiting for the period to come. Roughly would be like a couple of weeks with hormonal stimulation and then you will undergo what we call a no side retrieval and then with that, we will get the eggs frozen. We call it vitrification because it’s actually not freezing, it’s an ultra quick freezing which preserves the quality of the eggs with its integrity and then this is what has really made a difference in terms of survival rates.

Answer from: Maria José Mendiola, MD, MSc in Human Genetics, MSc in Science Communication, ObGyn

Gynaecologist, Gynaecologist in Reproductive Medicine & Reproductive Genetics Clínica Monterrico
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Egg freezing is also known as oocyte cryopreservation. It is a procedure to store women’s eggs for use in future fertility treatment. In this way women have the possibility of being a mother in the future with more biological competent eggs that have been frozen in the younger age. Current rapid vitrification techniques preserve oocytes so it has good survival rates. The main characteristic of vitrification technique is that no water crystals are generated so in this way you will able to prolong your fertility capacity over time, being able to have a pregnancy later with your own genetic globe in an age that in which women who have not taken this precaution will have to face the indication of egg donation.

About this question:

Egg freezing - what is it and how does it work?

Egg freezing is performed to preserve the eggs for the future and to use them later on during an IVF cycle. Women may choose to freeze their eggs for various reasons; it is also done as a standard procedure within an IVF cycle.

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