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Egg Freezing and Egg Vitrification at UC San Diego Fertility Center

An Introduction To Egg Freezing Vs. Vitrification:

Many of us focus first on our education and careers due to societal changes, and this has resulted in a delay of childbearing. For many women, this has also lead to a delay in finding a partner. As a result, the number of individuals and couples with infertility continues to rise. Options to prevent this were at one time limited and largely unsuccessful, however new breakthroughs over the past several years now provide options to women who elect to delay childbearing. Oocyte cryopreservation, otherwise known as egg freezing, has been at the forefront of research aimed toward elective female fertility preservation. Reproductive Partners-UCSD is very excited that we are now offering the most successful technique available, Egg Vitrification, also known as ‘rapid freezing'.

Overview of the process:

  • Ovarian stimulation and monitoring: hormonal treatment in the form of injections is given for approximately 8 to 10 days, stimulating the ovaries to produce multiple mature follicles/eggs.
  • Egg retrieval: eggs are retrieved from your ovaries through an ultrasound-guided follicle aspiration. You will receive sedation for this procedure.
  • Egg vitrification: your eggs are then placed in a "vitrification solution" called cryoprotectant, which helps to protect your eggs during the freezing and thawing process. Each egg is carefully placed into liquid nitrogen and stored frozen at a temperature of -196˚ Celcius.
  • Egg storage: your eggs will remain frozen in a liquid nitrogen storage tank, in our embryology laboratory, until the time when you are ready to conceive.
  • Uterine preparation: once you are ready to conceive, preparation of your uterus for the upcoming embryo transfer will involves a short course of hormone treatment. This prepares the uterine lining for implantation of the embryo(s).
  • Egg thawing: your eggs will be thawed to room temperature in cryprotectant, which protects them during the thawing process.
  • Fertilization: each egg is then fertilized in our lab through intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), injecting a single sperm into each egg. This is done to maximize the chances of successfully fertilizing each egg.
  • Embryo culture and transfer: after your embryo(s) grow in the lab for 3 to 5 days, one or more (depending on the clinical scenario) embryo(s) will be chosen to transfer into the uterus.

For more details on the background and process of Elective Egg Freezing, please click on the titles below.



Last updated: November 11, 2010
Author: Dr. Deirdre Conway