Vitrification is a technique of cryopreservation that results in glass like solidification. This technique is used in the freezing of oocyte, zygote, embryo, and blastocyst. But, it is most widely used in the freezing of oocytes or eggs. Vitrification is a process of rapid freezing of eggs.
Vitrification can increase the chances of pregnancy in:
• Women diagnosed with cancer; if a woman is diagnosed with cancer, she can go for the freezing of her eggs. However, this procedure must be done before the beginning of chemotherapies and radiations.
• Women undergoing other treatments for assisted reproduction.
• Women who would like to preserve their fertility, their future ability to have children.
• Women with personal problems or any other medical complications.
• Women with low ovarian reserve.
When the eggs are frozen, ice crystal formation is avoided since the fluid in the cells cools to sub-zero temperatures. There will be two problems if ice crystals form:
1. Its sharp edges will shred the cell membrane, killing the cell.
2. The water in the cell will turn into ice rupturing and killing the cell.
Thereby, the process should be such that the cells would be frozen without the formation of ice. The process of vitrification does that.
Why Should a Woman Vitrify her Eggs?
As the clock ticks by, the fertility of a woman decreases considerably. Just like every other organ, the ovaries too, age with time. By the time, a woman turns thirty-five, she has lost approximately a thousand eggs, as a result of her menstrual cycle each month. Roughly, around forty, she has only ten percent of her ovum intact. But, these eggs are usually of a poor quality. This might result in failed attempts of reproduction. Moreover, there are high chances of conceiving an unhealthy baby or giving birth to a baby with potential chromosomal abnormalities.
Thus, it might be a good decision for a woman to vitrify her eggs while she is at her fertile best. This will ensure the probabilities of giving birth to a healthy baby in future. It also is a good resort for women who considering having their ovaries removed due to medical reasons.
How are Eggs Vitrified?
The vitrification of eggs is an ultra-rapid process. The whole process consumes five to ten minutes, in total. Before the procedure begins, the eggs are obtained from the body of the female. First, the dehydration of eggs take place by exposing them high concentrations to cryoprotectants. Then, the eggs are loaded with tiny storage devices. Lastly, the eggs are cooled rapidly. In the process of vitrification, the eggs are hardened but ice crystals are formed. The cryoprotectants used during the process, avoid any breakages in the cellular membrane.
When a patient desires pregnancy, the process of vitrification is reversed. The eggs are warmed both at the temperature and in an incubator. They are rehydrated and placed inside the uterus of the female immediately. After the eggs are in the uterus, they can be injected with sperm, three to four hours later.