Through vitrification which has been developed in the past few years, cryopreservation of embryos and ova is a safe method with impressive results.
Freezing ova: winning the fertility bet!
Fertility maintenance is one of the most prominent issues that worry contemporary women at a reproductive age. This issue is of even bigger importance and sensitivity, when there is the need of systematic chemotherapy in a malignant disease or any other disease.
In recent years, rapid evolution in IVF techniques, enabled us to offer a significant variety of choice to the reproductive potential of a woman. Just until a few years ago, freezing ova was not possible. Yet, today, it is possible and effective, thanks to vitrification technique. The technique of embryos and ova cryopreservation through vitrification, has been developed in the recent years and is a safe cryopreservation method, with impressive results and very high percentage of successful thawing.
Through vitrification, the procedure of freezing lasts just a few minutes, without putting the embryo or the ovum through the more invasive procedure of long-term freezing, which used to be the most common method of cryopreservation, until recently.
Vitrification in general is the procedure of transforming any material to a glass -non crystal structure. During the process of freezing we use a high rate cryoprotective medium combined with rapid temperature drop.
As a result:
- The ovum is protected by potentially harmful effects that the cryoprotective medium might have.
- Excessive dehydration is prevented. The ovum is not harmed by the creation of endocyttaric ice crystals.
When a woman decides to proceed to the procedure of cryopreservation, the following steps are followed:
- Multiple ovulation induction-ovary stimulation: this procedure lasts for approximately 8 to 12 days. We provoke the ovaries to produce more than one ovum (as normally produced in the natural menstruating cycle)
- Ova reception: taking place in the designated area of the surgery with short-term analgesia through the veins (10 to 15 minutes), without consciousness loss and, of course, painlessly. After 30 to 60 minutes from the completement of the procedure, the woman is ready to exit the unit.
- Cleaning the ova, and selecting the most appropriate ones, to freeze in the lab through vitrification process.
- Preserving the ova for as long as the person of interest wishes. At this point, we must clarify that cryopreservation duration has nothing to do with the ova quality, after they are thawed.
So, when a woman decides to have children, initially we must thaw the ova and then fertilize them in the lab.