Vitrification or freezing of oocytes (unfertilized egg cells) is a technique which allows preservation of fertility. The egg cells are obtained following ovarian stimulation in the same manner as that used for IVF. Vitrification is an extremely fast freezing method which reduces or eliminates the formation of harmful ice crystals.
Some women must undergo medical treatment like chemotherapy, pelvic radiation, or ovarian surgery which diminishes their ovarian function. In these cases, oocyte vitrification prior to treatment can allow them to preserve egg cells for reproductive use after recovery.
Currently one of the major causes of infertility is delay in seeking pregnancy. Many women pursue their professional and personal goals before deciding to have children and often they have not found the right partner or reached a point of stability and readiness for childbearing until the age of 35-40 years. Because female fertility is directly related to age, many women face challenges when they then begin to try to conceive. For young women who know that they wish to postpone pregnancy, but are certain that they wish to use their own eggs in the future, oocyte vitrification can provide a sort of "insurance" against reproductive aging.
When the woman decides that she is ready to conceive, her eggs can be thawed and fertilized with her partner's sperm. The resulting embryos are then transferred to the woman's uterus in order to achieve pregnancy.
One of the best techniques for women to maintain their fertility is known as egg vitrification. It is recommended in cases in which young women decide to hold off on pregnancy but wish to use their own eggs in the future.
Not all women can vitrify their eggs, as it is necessary to have a good ovarian reserve. It is also recommended that this is to be done at an early as possible age since the quality of the eggs diminishes with age.
To carry out egg vitrification it is necessary to undergo ovarian stimulation (similar to in vitro fertilization) to obtain a sufficient number of eggs. The eggs are collected under light sedation and are later frozen with the vitrification technique in a laboratory.
The eggs may be vitrified during the time period necessary without this delay affecting their quality. When the patient decides to conceive, they are thawed and fertilized in the laboratory. The obtained embryos are transferred to the woman's uterus in order to achieve the pregnancy.