Oocyte cryopreservation: delaying pregnancy
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One of the reasons why fertility problems are on the increase is that women are delaying motherhood.
We postpone this decision and may find a good mental health, a good economic position, a good social standing,… but our bodies are no longer prepared, our options to have children and pass on our genes become more limited, either because we are no longer able to produce eggs or because the eggs we produce are no longer good enough.
Oocyte vitrification presents an alternative for women who wish to delay the time to become a mother until they have achieved the necessary stability, keeping the same chances of becoming pregnant than they have at the time their eggs are frozen.
Oocyte vitrification is a technique whereby a woman’s eggs are frozen when she is fertile. Vitrification provides a higher thawing survival rate than other egg freezing techniques. It is a safe technique based on preventing the formation of ice crystals in the cells and, therefore, preventing cell destruction when the time to thaw the eggs comes.
A good oocyte quality is essential. It is better to vitrify oocytes from young women who do not have fertility problems than oocytes from patients of advanced reproductive age, with declining numbers and quality.
- When one wants to delay the time of motherhood and fertility needs to be preserved.
- When medical and surgical factors affect a woman’s fertility or a chemo- or radiotherapy treatment is going to be initiated.
- When one does not wish to freeze embryos during an IVF treatment for ethical or moral reasons.
- When a low ovarian response is limiting the chances to become pregnant.
An oocyte vitrification cycle is very similar to the first stages of an IVF treatment. A controlled ovarian stimulation is performed to increase the number of eggs that can be produced in a cycle. Oocytes are retrieved from the ovaries and, once their quality has been verified, they are vitrified until they are eventually used. Oocytes can remain vitrified indefinitely and keep their reproductive power intact, just as it was at the time of ovarian stimulation. Furthermore, the patient’s fertility is not affected for undergoing a stimulation cycle to vitrify oocytes.