The freezing or vitrification of egg cells is a fertility preservation technique that allows us to conserve the frozen egg cells for an indefinite period of time, since the number of egg cells contained in the ovaries is limited. Thanks to this technique, a woman can preserve her fertility with the advantages and smaller risks associated with her current age, independently of the age she might have in the future.
At Amnios in Vitro Project, we offer the latest medical technologies to our patients, which allows us to offer the highest possible success rates, always with a humane relationship which is 100% personalised and where your well-being and the success of your treatment are the only important matter.
Any woman can use this fertility preservation technique and request to freeze her egg cells. However, egg cell vitrification may be specifically valid for:
- Woman who are over 35 years old and who do not have any plans of getting pregnant in the next 3 to 4 years. With the passing of time, the chances of fertilisation of the egg cells diminish and on the other hand, the chances of genetic abnormalities at the point of fertilisation, pregnancy ending in miscarriage, or that the baby will suffer Down syndrome, increase. Through egg cell vitrification, these chances are reduced. By freezing egg cells in their current state, when they are used again in the future, they will have the risks and advantages of the current age, and not of the age at the time you decide to use these cells.
- Woman with high risk of loss of ovarian function. For example, women with endometriosis or women who have been diagnosed with auto-immune diseases or cancer who will be receiving treatment, this being chemotherapy or radiation therapy
Freezing of egg cells consists of obtaining the egg cells of a woman at a fertile age, through the process of ovulation induction, and keeping them frozen until the moment she decides to use them. The process used to freeze the egg cells is called vitrification.
When a girl is born, it is estimated that her ovaries contain between 400.000 and one million egg cells. From that moment on, the number of egg cells starts to decrease. The egg cells contained in the ovaries are what doctors call the “ovarian reserve”. This ovarian reserve gets smaller over time. In general, a woman’s fertility is closely related to the ovarian reserve, in a way that the bigger the ovarian reserve, the higher the fertility.
From 35 years onwards, the decline of the ovarian reserve is sharper. It is estimated that at 40 years old, only 20% of women has a normal ovarian reserve. These are women with a potentially normal fertility. Instead, 10% of women at 40 will have already experienced menopause (early onset). When reaching menopause, the ovarian reserve has been completely exhausted.
So, the ovaries do not produce any more egg cells than it already contains when the girl is born. So far, there has not been found a way to avoid the ovarian reserve getting exhausted over time. As a result, a woman’s fertility is directly related to her age, and declines significantly after 35 years of age. Nor can we predict when a specific woman’s ovarian reserve will be exhausted (or the other way around, we do not know until when a woman conserves her fertility).
To be able to freeze egg cells, we first need to make sure that the ovaries produce sufficient cells. Therefore, an induction treatment is carried out, which is similar to the one for IVF. It consists of administrating a hormone (FSH) after menstruation, for a period of 9 to 10 days. This hormone causes multiple ovulation. After that, the egg cells are harvested through a transvaginal puncture (which is carried out under sedation).
Once extracted, the vitrification process starts. Once frozen, the egg cells can be kept for many years.
Unfortunately, it is not possible to guarantee that you will get pregnant after freezing your egg cells, since the success of the future treatment depends on many factors: the quality of the egg cells, the quality of the sperm cells, and/or any other existing problems (receptivity of the endometrium, etc.).
Currently, the pregnancy rates with IVF using previously vitrified egg cells is around 40-45% per attempt.
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