What is the procedure for freezing eggs during Cryopreservation?
- Posted on: Feb 2 2014
by Dr. Deborah Smith
The process for freezing an oocyte (an egg) in a cryopreservation treatment cycle begins the same as the egg retrieval process used in an in vitro fertilization treatment.
The ovaries are stimulated using a controlled overstimulation hormone treatment in order to produce multiple eggs per each menstrual cycle. This overproduction of eggs increases the chance of having a mature egg ready for insemination during a menstrual cycle, at which point the egg will be retrieved by a Denver fertility doctor.
Cryopreservation takes a different direction from in vitro fertilization, the moment the egg is retrieved. The actual process of retrieving the egg once it has been deemed ready takes between 10 to 15 minutes and is performed while the patient is under mild sedation. The number of eggs that can be acquired at this stage will vary from woman to woman and is decided by how the body reacted to the fertility hormone treatments.
After these eggs have been removed from the body they are immediately taken to a clinic to be evaluated for quality. If the egg is healthy and seems a viable candidate for insemination, the egg will be frozen and stored onsite. Now, you may ask how the egg can be frozen without being damaged knowing that it is a largely composed of cells, and cells have a large portion of water within them. Logic would dictate that freezing a cell would cause ice to form- which in a normal setting would damage the cell.
Cryopreservation circumvents this directly. Prior to being frozen, the egg will be dehydrated with a cryoprotectant administered to replace the water component. This protectant inhibits the formation of ice crystals, and actively works to keep the egg intact during the freezing process. As a result of the cryopreservation process, the egg is left with a hard outer shell similar to the composition of glass. This leaves the only option for insemination as an artificial one, most often through a number of IVF cycles.
Cryopreservation of eggs can be very beneficial to women who wish to have a pregnancy later on in their life, and who want to preserve their best quality egg with the highest viability for it. Frozen eggs are carefully stored and monitored within the clinic, and are readily retrievable when a woman decides she is ready to use them.
Posted in: Egg Freezing