Egg vitrification. A big word for a tiny little thing. Egg vitrification is the process of freezing the eggs so that they can be used at a later date. As new IVF methods have more than doubled success rates, the freezing of eggs for use in fertility treatment is no longer seen as ‘experimental’. This marks a big step forward in the world of reproductive medicine. At Cyprus IVF Centre, we can offer egg freezing by way of vitrification to all women regardless of age.
Why is egg freezing so important?
More and more often women are choosing to delay conception. Soaring property prices, the demands of a hectic work life, establishing a career or even lack of a partner are all reasons why women these days choose not to conceive early on in their adulthood. The demands of modern life can wreak havoc on the chances of success for those women who are older when they begin trying to conceive.
It is a known concept that a woman’s fertility declines with age. If she is over forty, 75% of her eggs will be abnormal. Advances in science mean that these women now have the same chance of pregnancy as a woman a decade younger if they freeze their eggs at a young age. The egg freezing technique is now safe, standard and effective. Years ago slow preservation was the preferred approach, but now research has shown that flash freezing (vitrification) for eggs works a lot better. It’s only through extensive studies and experiments that this new knowledge has been introduced.
As progress has been made in egg vitrification techniques, the suspicion and mistrust of a new technology has fallen away and more and more women are happy to put their faith in science and their eggs in the freezer. It’s not a decision to be taken lightly, after all. If you know that you don’t want children until you are older, then by preserving your eggs you are having to trust that Team Miracle at Cyprus IVF Centre will look after them until you are ready to use them.
Advantages of egg freezing
In a world where we are constantly being told that fresh things are better; fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, fresh bread, it can seem an anathema to learn that actually, in the fertility world, frozen eggs are almost as good as fresh. Getting your body ready to harvest eggs takes its toll physically and emotionally and using frozen eggs rather than fresh gives your body the chance to rest, recover, adjust and settle down after the hormone treatments.
Essentially what we are seeing here in the world of reproductive medicine, is the revolutionary idea that women are able to preserve their fertility until they are ready to have babies. It may be sensible to own property, have savings and have a career established before you have children, but when your chances of conception are so much lower in later years, it’s a considerable risk to take. Cryopreservation takes that risk away.
And while there’s a lot of reasons why a woman would choose to freeze her eggs, there are also some situations where she will have to – if she wants children. These are things like suffering cancer and having to undergo chemotherapy or radiotherapy. Sadly, treatments such as these often leave the body damaged and freezing eggs is a necessity for successful conception.
At Cyprus IVF Centre, when you are ready to use your frozen eggs, you can opt for a complete chromosomal screening check. The eggs will be thawed and fertilised with sperm from your partner or donor. On the third day of development, each embryo is carefully assessed to see that it has exactly 46 chromosomes; 23 from each parent. Genetic disorders such as 22q11 deletion result from parts of the genome sequence being missing and disorders like Down syndrome result from an extra pair of chromosomes being present. Having the PGD screening check can significantly lower incidences of genetic abnormalities. Patient can also use the PGD testing to select the gender of their baby. If eggs are frozen and then screened, the chances of implantation jump from 33% to 61%.
What advances have happened in egg vitrification success?
Twelve years ago doctors were writing their dissertations on egg freezing techniques. There were a lot of theories and ideas but little actual progress. Even when egg freezing began to be more widely used, it was labelled as ‘experimental’ a lot of the time. It took a long time for that label to be taken away.
At that time slow preservation of eggs and embryos was being trialled. This worked well for the embryos – but not the eggs. A different technique was needed and vitrification was it. Improved freezing and thawing rates led to a surge in fertility successes using frozen eggs. There are still no guarantees, but the statistics are improving all the time. The ‘experimental’ label is definitely no longer applied.
Creating an “egg bank”
By the time older women are ready to proceed with IVF treatment in Cyprus, often they find that their ovarian reserve has diminished. Perhaps there will only be one or two mature eggs available for collection by our doctors at Cyprus IVF Centre. In this situation, she may suggest that the patient freezes the eggs and returns for another IVF cycle in Cyprus in a couple of months. After the second egg collection, the fresh eggs and defrosted frozen eggs will be combined and our doctors will be able to transfer a higher number of embryos to the recipient. This gives a vastly improved chance of pregnancy when compared with a single embryo transfer.
Out here at the Cyprus IVF Centre, we are committed to keeping up with the latest research and results so that we can continue to offer cutting-edge fertility care. No two patients are the same and the more and more broad range of treatments being offered reflects this. Each patient is guaranteed to have their individual circumstances assessed by Team Miracle and the most appropriate treatment provided.
At the Cyprus IVF Centre, our mission is your success.