Fertility Preservation

Stop the Biological Clock….Freeze Eggs

Some say women have pulled the short end of the reproductive stick.  While a man can produce new sperm every three months for virtually his entire adult life, a woman is born with all of the eggs she will ever have.

Starting in puberty and ending in menopause, a woman will recruit anywhere between 10-30 eggs each month, usually releasing only one of them, while the others are reabsorbed and lost forever.  As a woman ages, her eggs age with her.  Not only do eggs become fewer in number, but the DNA degrades over time.  With age, the risk of chromosomal abnormalities, or aneuploidy, is much higher.

This is why pregnancy rates, both natural and through in vitro fertilization (IVF), decrease steadily with age.  The steady decline of female fertility with age was inevitable—until now.

A new and cutting edge reproductive technology called vitrification or “flash freeze” may hold the key to silencing the ticking biological clock.  The technique for egg and embryo cryopreservation has been perfected in Japan by Dr. Masashige Kuwayama (2000) of the Kato Ladies Clinic.  Egg vitrification means literally “changing into glass,” and differs significantly from slow cooling methodoligies of the past as there is no intracellular ice formation but rather there is an instant physical change of the egg or embryo into a chemical glass that is maintained at ultra low temperatures.  This is what we refer to as “flash freeze.”

With the previous slow freeze method of banking eggs, only 6% of eggs frozen would survive the freezing and thawing process.  Today with Egg Vitrification, over 90% of eggs survive.


Egg Vitrification at Zouves Fertility Center

Here at Zouves Fertility Center, we have been vitrifying advanced stage embryos on day five and six since 2005.  In 2009 we moved to vitrification of all embryo stages from day 1 through to day 6, as well as initiating our egg vitrification program.  This has allowed us to reliably store eggs so that they can be warmed and fertilized at a later time to create embryos and then pregnancies.

This new technology of Egg Vitrification has huge implications not only for reproductive specialists but for women in general.  The perfection of Egg vitrification means that women can bank their eggs and wait until much later in life to have their own biological children, even after they have become menopausal.

Until now, many women have had to make the very difficult choice to postpone childbearing while they pursued a career, only to find that when the time became right for having a family, the eggs were of poor quality or no longer available due to perimenopause.

The playing field between the sexes has now been leveled with the availability of reliable vitrification of eggs.  Women will now be able to proactively bank their own eggs while they are young so that they may have children with their own “donor eggs” later in life when they have identified a partner or their career goals have been met.

The availability of reliable vitrification is probably the single most important advance in assisted reproduction since the introduction of intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) in the early-1990s, this allows reproductive choice for women that did not exist in the past.

 Egg vitrification truly does seem to suspend the biological clock—and ZFC is proud to be a part of this new and revolutionary movement in reproductive technology.

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