IVF Plano Utilizes the Vitrification Process to Preserve Fertility

Although reproductive endocrinologists like Dr. James Douglas have long used freezing techniques to make sperm and embryos available for future use, they once had limited options when it came to eggs. A fast-freezing process called vitrification has made egg freezing a viable choice for women who want to protect their ability to conceive. This technology enables Dr. Douglas to give patients more opportunities to create the families they desire.

A brief history of fertility preservation

Before vitrification, the freezing technique used on sperm and embryos was a slow-freeze process. Both sperm and embryos tolerate this procedure well, and thousands of couples have conceived using previously frozen sperm and embryos. Unfortunately, egg freezing was not as successful. A main component of human eggs is water, which makes the eggs susceptible to the formation of ice crystals. When these crystals develop, they can damage the cell structure during thawing.

An overview of vitrification

During vitrification, the eggs are protected with cryoprotectants and sucrose, which removes excess water before freezing. Because vitrification is an ultra-rapid process, the egg is then frozen so quickly that ice crystals don’t have time to form. With a frozen egg, a hard outer shell will form, so the sperm will need to be injected directly into the thawed egg with a needle, a process called intracytoplasmic sperm injection – ICSI.

Choosing to freeze your eggs

To begin the egg freezing process, Dr. Douglas will prepare patients for egg retrieval in a manner similar to other fertility treatment cycles. You will likely undergo several weeks of fertility medication injections to stimulate your ovaries to produce multiple eggs. At the appropriate time, Dr. Douglas will retrieve the mature eggs, which will then be flash-frozen in the IVF lab.

Exploring vitrification for egg preservation

This newest technique provides additional choices for women who want to preserve their fertility, including:

  • Patients who may lose their ability to conceive because of medical treatments for diseases such as cancer and rheumatoid arthritis
  • Women at risk of premature ovarian failure or early menopause who may have a limited window of fertility
  • Single, young women who are not in a relationship but want to have fertility options in the future
  • Couples who prefer not to freeze embryos

Consult IVF Plano for more information about fertility preservation

Let us help you understand the available options. If you have questions about protecting your fertility, including the use of vitrification, contact our Plano fertility office. We can schedule a consultation appointment with Dr. Douglas to address your needs and discuss possible fertility preservation.