What should women know about it?
Oocyte cryopreservation is, nowadays, a popular procedure which gives women the probability to create a family whenever they wish.
Due to the rapid development of the assisted reproduction techniques, women, either single or in a relationship, have the chance to cryopreserve oocytes of a young age in order to use them whenever they feel ready.
At first, the patient undergoes a series of medical assessments, mostly blood exams and ultrasound, in order to evaluate her oocytes’ quantity and quality.
Afterwards, she starts her ovarian stimulation with a protocol her doctor advises as the most suitable for her. Follow-up ultrasounds will show whether the egg size and number meet the specifications. If it is, the patient undergoes a procedure called oocyte collection.
During the oocyte collection, the patient is lightly intoxicated for about 10-15 min while the doctor aspirates the oocytes with a needle guided by ultrasound via the vagina and finally, the oocytes result in the embryology lab.
The embryologists cryopreserve the oocytes with a technique called vitrification. It is a very safe and effective cryopreservation technique with very good results of survival after thawing.
The embryologists, finally, inform the patient how many of the oocytes are suitable for cryopreservation and they store them in liquid nitrogen at -196 °C in the cryopreservation bank of the IVF unit the patient has chosen. The oocytes are safely stored there for many years as the cryopreservation bank is automatically monitored 24/7.
Who is about?
Most of women choose to delay their plan to create a family due to social reasons. They are women who have not found their ideal mate yet or they have been focused on finishing their education and on starting their career in order to financially support a family.
There are also the medical reasons for which some women choose this technique. They concern women who are going to be treated with therapies that might affect their fertility such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy or women with history of premature menopause, premature ovarian failure or heavy endometriosis. In few cases, oocyte cryopreservation is preferred to embryo cryopreservation due to religious reasons.
What happens when a woman decides to use her cryopreserved oocytes?
When a woman takes the decision to use her stored oocytes, she must inform her doctor and the embryology lab. The day the embryologists thaw her oocytes, her partner/husband gives a sperm sample. The oocytes are fertilized with the method of Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) in which one spermatozoon is located inside each oocyte. The fertilized oocytes are cultured for 3-5 days in the embryology lab and afterwards, 1 or 2 of them are located inside the woman’s womb.
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