Vitrification of eggs

What does it involve?

The vitrification of eggs is a fertility preservation technique that involves ultra-fast freezing of eggs for future use.

The vitrification of eggs requires prior ovarian stimulation in order to obtain sufficient eggs (like in vitro fertilisation - IVF). The eggs are obtained by egg collection, which is performed in the operating theatre under mild sedation. They are then frozen in the laboratory using the vitrification technique. When a woman wishes to become pregnant, the eggs are simply thawed and fertilised in the laboratory. The embryos obtained are transferred to the patient’s uterus to facilitate pregnancy.

When is the vitrification of eggs advisable?

One of the main causes of sterility is currently the age at which women wish to become pregnant. In today’s society, many women prioritise personal and professional stability before deciding to have a child, at an age that tends to range from 35 to 40. Because of both this and the fact that female fertility depends directly on age, there is an ever-growing number of women who find it difficult to become pregnant naturally.

The vitrification of eggs is one of the best techniques for preserving fertility. It is recommendable for young women who are planning to postpone pregnancy yet wish to be able to use their own eggs in the future.

Since vitrification of the eggs essentially requires a good ovarian reserve, it should be performed at as early an age as possible, because the quality of eggs decreases with age.

This technique is also advisable for women required to undergo chemotherapy/radiotherapy treatments or ovarian surgery because of tumours or endometriosis, which will decrease their ovarian reserve. The vitrification of eggs prior to such aggressive treatments will allow for the performance of assisted reproduction techniques after their recovery, if they are unable to become pregnant spontaneously.

Frequently asked questions

What is the ideal age for freezing my eggs?

From 35 years of age onwards, egg quality decreases significantly. Over the age of 40, spontaneous pregnancy is therefore very hard to achieve. If you are between the ages of 30 and 35 and do not envisage becoming pregnant in the near future, you may freeze your eggs to protect them from the passage of time and to keep your fertility intact.

What does treatment to obtain eggs involve? Can I live a normal life?

Obtaining mature eggs involves prior ovarian stimulation with hormonal treatment that lasts approximately 15 days. During this period three check-ups at the gynaecologist’s surgery will be required.

A simple operation as an outpatient under sedation will then be scheduled. You should rest on that day.

The eggs obtained are then vitrified and kept in optimal condition in the GIROFIV Egg Bank.

Very minor discomfort, which may appear during the process, will disappear when treatment is complete.

Does it have any side effects?

No, it is not true that the ovarian stimulation required to obtain eggs involves an increased risk of cancer, a rise in bodyweight, the sudden appearance of acne or other undesired effects.

Can it speed up the appearance of the menopause?

No, treatment does not affect the age at which the woman starts the menopause. In normal conditions, a woman has a reserve of some 300,000 eggs. In each ovarian cycle 100 to 200 eggs are consumed and, of these, only one or two eventually ovulate. The remainder are lost with menstruation. This process prompts the maturation of some eggs that would likewise be lost, without affecting the total number of eggs that the woman produces.

How long can the eggs remain frozen?

Technically, provided that the conditions of cryopreservation are maintained (in liquid nitrogen at a temperature of -196ºC), the eggs may be conserved indefinitely.

Frozen eggs nonetheless tend to be used within a period of 6 years on average.

Can I have children naturally after the process?

Yes. Ovarian stimulation and the subsequent vitrification of eggs does not affect a woman’s ovarian reserve. The vitrified eggs are simply a “reserve” to be used in the event that when you decide to become a mother you have difficulties in becoming pregnant.

What will I have to do when I want to use my frozen eggs?

When you decide to use the cryopreserved eggs, they simply need to be thawed and inseminated. The resulting embryos are transferred to the uterus. Normally, a very gentle prior treatment is given to prepare the uterus to receive these embryos.

What chances have I of becoming pregnant after freezing my eggs?

It depends on different factors, particularly the number and quality of the eggs when they are frozen. It is, however, generally a very efficient technique and there is therefore a high chance of becoming pregnant.

Are the children born from these vitrified eggs healthy?

Although it is a very new technique, according to the data available on IVF children born from vitrified eggs, there are no differences with children born using the same technique without vitrification. The use of vitrified eggs DOES NOT therefore increase the risk of neonatal problems.