IVFclinic in Greece

Egg freezing

 

Motherhood is a conscious choice and an inalienable right of every woman. However, fertility does have its time limits. So cryopreservation can provide the solution.

What exactly is egg freezing?

It is an innovative service provided by the Institute of Life that gives women the chance to freeze time, preventing the further aging of their eggs, and allows them to choose when they want to become mothers. The number and quantity of eggs start diminishing after 35 years, and so does the chance of pregnancy. Egg freezing offers a solution to this problem.

Is the procedure difficult or painful?

Not at all. The steps of the process are fairly simple. The whole process is concluded in 10-14 days. During this time, proper pharmaceutical treatment is administered for many eggs to mature. Alternatively, egg retrieval may be scheduled without drugs, as part of the natural cycle, or with mild pharmaceutical stimulation. Maturation is monitored via ultrasound and blood tests, while the egg retrieval process lasts a few minutes. After a few hours of monitoring, the woman may return to her daily activities.

What happens when the woman decides to have a baby?

The eggs are kept in cryopreservation in the lab using a method known as vitrification. They can remain frozen for many years, without their quality being affected. When a woman decides to have children, the eggs are thawed and prepared for fertilization in the lab, using the man’s sperm.

How effective is this method?

Many studies conducted after the establishment of egg vitrification, as well as the experience of the Institute of Life after implementing the method, demonstrate that the quality of the cryopreserved eggs, the chance of fertilization and the pregnancy rates are similar to those for fresh eggs.

Is the method safe?

The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) believes that the egg vitrification method is suitable for daily applications, while research on children born through this method has demonstrated that it is absolutely safe.

Up until what age can women freeze their eggs?

Although limits have not been set internationally, given that both the number and quantity of eggs diminish after the age of 35, experts advise that egg cryopreservation is most effective the earlier it is performed.

How long can I freeze my eggs for?

In accordance with the Greek legislation, oocyte cryopreservation (egg freezing) is permitted for 5 years. The duration of oocyte cryopreservation may be extended for 5 years each time (provided that the woman has not reached the age of 50) following an application in writing by the interested parties, with a maximum extension limit of 20 years.

As a technique, is it accepted by society?

Absolutely. As demonstrated by the funding into cryopreservation by companies such as Apple and Facebook for their employees, delaying having children until later is a social reality. Science is responding to the challenges, meeting the needs of young women, who are now free to choose the right time, depending on their personal and social situation. At the same time, this is seen as progress for women and society. Egg freezing, or human oocyte cryopreservation, is not a need but a choice. A choice supported by our scientific team, who have the advanced technical know-how to implement it. This choice is now available to you.

Relevant Topics

Testicular Tissue Cryopreservation

In cases of azoospermia, collection of testicular tissue biopsy is performed, on the one hand to confirm the presence or sperm or the chance of malignancy, and on the other to collect sperm, if any is detected.

Before the biopsy, the levels of FSH, LH and testosterone are measured, to assess the function of the testicles and the seminiferous tubules. If these are found to be high, the chance of testicular dysfunction or absence of sperm is high.

The testicular tissue is collected surgically and treated at an andrology lab, so that sperm suitable for fertilization or future storage is isolated.

Special treatment of the sperm then follows, so that it can be cryopreserved in special tanks, which are placed in liquid nitrogen at -196°C and remain there until used for micro-insemination (ICSI).

Embryo Cryopreservation

The surplus embryos that will arise may be cryopreserved for as long as specified by the law and be used in a next embryo transfer cycle or if the couple later decides to have more children.

Surplus embryos that were not used in an embryo transfer are preserved using the cryopreservation method. This ensures that if the IVF attempt made with fresh eggs fails, there is the option of using the cryopreserved embryos at a later stage.

If pregnancy is achieved on the first attempt, the cryopreserved embryos are kept in the cryopreservation bank for as long as permitted by the Law, until the couple decides to have more children. The Law offers couples who have concluded their family programming the option to donate their surplus cryopreserved embryos without compensation, primarily to people in need, or for scientific or therapeutic reasons without compensation, or to destroy them. According to Law 3305/2005 on assisted reproduction, cryopreserved embryos can be stored for 5 years, with the option of extending this period by another 5 years (provided the woman has not reached the age of 50).

With the modern embryo cryopreservation method, vitrification, the success rates are similar to those where fresh embryos were used, while research has indicated that cryopreservation methods are safe and do not affect the quality of embryos.

Cryopreservation takes place in extremely low temperatures (at -196°C), at which stage metabolism is interrupted almost completely, and, consequently, changes are minimal. The liquefied gas used widely in assisted reproduction, as well as other biological and medical applications, is liquid nitrogen (LN2), which can maintain such low temperatures. Due to its composition, liquid nitrogen does not cause chemical reactions, and, therefore, does not harm cryopreserved biological samples.

 
Sperm Cryopreservation

Sperm cryopreservation gives us the chance to freeze time and if the issue of fertility arises for any reason, the cryopreserved sperm is readily available. Sperm cryopreservation is considered a safe procedure and no problems have been detected in babies born from cryopreserved sperm.

Sperm Cryopreservation. Does it apply to me?

Modern lifestyle and work conditions have greatly changed the state of affairs in male factor infertility. Modern men are faced with adverse situations daily which may potentially threaten their fertility. Environmental pollution, daily stress, work environment conditions, sitting for long periods of time, obesity, dietary habits, smoking and excessive alcohol consumption are some of the possible reasons that may cause damage to the quality of a man’s sperm.

The impact increases over time and is further burdened as a man gets older. This is especially crucial, as a large majority of reproductively mature men delay having a family and postpone it for later.

This is why preserving fertility at the same quality level as that of younger ages is very good reason for a man to choose to freeze his sperm early on.

Specifically, sperm cryopreservation is indicated for men who:

  • Want to preserve their reproductive potential unchanged, without the effects of aging.
  • Are about to receive treatment for cancer or undergo prostate or testicular surgery, which are procedures that can affect sperm quality or production.
  • Are about to undergo surgical retrieval of epididymal or testicular sperm, provided the procedure collects an adequate amount of sperm.
  • Are systematically exposed to spermatotoxic factors at their place of work or residence, e.g. chemical substances, radiation, high temperatures.
  • Suffer from ejaculatory dysfunction.
  • Develop progressive loss of sperm parameters.
  • Have successfully undergone treatment to improve the quality of their sperm, but the results may possibly not be permanent.
Ovarian Tissue Cryopreservation

This method protects female reproductive ability when it is threatened by treatments performed for malignant diseases and can restore normal ovarian function in the future.

Ovarian tissue cryopreservation is a method used to preserve fertility, whereby the outer layer of the ovary, which contains a great number of your eggs, is removed and frozen for future use. A part of the ovaries is removed with laparoscopic surgery or laparotomy and kept frozen in a cryopreservation bank.

The following options are then available in the future:

  • In-vitro maturation of primary ovarian follicles and immature eggs until they reach the mature egg stage and are able to be fertilized using the IVF method.
  • Autologous transplantation, meaning that the ovarian tissue that had been removed is repositioned, with the aim of restoring ovarian function and, by extension, fertility.
  • Heterologous transplantation, meaning transplantation of the tissue in another woman who has lost her reproductive ability.

Ovarian tissue cryopreservation is an internationally accepted method, but its functionality after transplantation is still being researched. Progress is continuous, though, and there is still hope for reproduction.

Dr.Stelios Papadopoulos, MD, DFFP, BSCCP
Contact Person

Dr. Stelios Papadopoulos, MD, DFFP, BSCCP

(+30) 697 588 3030 - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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