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Freezing Eggs (Vitrification)

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The IPGO held in 2005 the first case of twin pregnancy with frozen eggs from Brazil.

Freezing eggs is a procedure reserved for special cases. In the past, the big problem was the loss of fertilization capacity of these eggs after defrosting, but this problem is practically resolved already. The first birth originating from a frozen egg was in 1984. Since then, advancements in this technique have been encouraging. The most important indications are in oncological treatments, in fertility preservation, in women who are afraid of losing their fertility later on, in those who have family history of premature menopause, and in in vitro fertilization with excess eggs to avoid discarding excess embryos. In oncological treatments, it is used on patients who must be subjected to chemotherapy or radiation therapy. This treatment can cause irreversible problems to the eggs. By retrieving and freezing them before the treatment, fertility will be preserved. At the end of the treatment, the egg can be fertilized in the laboratory and the embryo implanted in the uterus.

For fertility preservation, some women, when they approach 35 years old and are neither married yet nor found the future father of their children, may become worried knowing that fertility decreases with age. In this case, they go through a process of ovarian stimulation, retrieval of the stimulated eggs, and freezing them. If, in the future, they find their “prince charming” and their eggs at the time have already aged, the frozen eggs can be used. The eggs will be fertilized and the embryos implanted in the uterus.

Women with a family history of premature menopause can freeze their eggs. At the time they desire to have children, if the ovary is not functioning adequately, they can use the eggs that were frozen previously. Otherwise, they can use the eggs collected at the time.

In the case of in vitro fertilization, sometimes, one can have excess eggs that produce various embryos. While only a part of them will be transferred into the future mother, the others should be frozen. If pregnancy occurs and the couple do not want any more children, there may be ethical problems, for embryos are considered living and cannot be discarded. If eggs are not frozen, the only alternative, if the couple accepts, is to donate the embryos to another couple or to scientific research.