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CRM Blog: Fertility Journey

The Vitrification Evolution - Revolution

October 9, 2014
By Dr. Randall Loy

Vitrification, or the quick freezing of cells and tissue, has been available for almost two decades but its relatively recent application to human eggs and embryos has revolutionized the world of IVF. “Vitrification” from the Latin vitreumfor “glass” is the cryobiology technique that instantaneously turns a solution into a solid without ice crystal formation. Upon quick freezing, human eggs, for example, become glassy- like in appearance and can then be stored indefinitely in liquid nitrogen at -321⁰ F. Upon thawing, the survival rates are high, relative to older “slow freezing” techniques, due to the much lower risk of damage to the eggs or embryos from ice crystal formation. (A bit of science: Upon thawing, ice crystals actually expand before they contact back as a solution and this expansion can rupture cells.)

Vitrification has allowed for more “freeze all” IVF cycles in which all available oocytes or embryos are cryopreserved to be replaced in a subsequent cycle. The advantages of such an approach may be as follows:

- Decreased risk of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS)

- Decreased fetal (preterm birth and small for gestational age) and placental (previa and abruption) risks of a fresh transfer

- Improved endometrial (uterine) receptivity in a subsequent, more natural cycle

- The possibility of more aggressive ovarian stimulation for “fertility preservation”

- Decreased multiple gestation (triplets and higher) rates

- Easier logistics for third party reproduction, e.g., egg donation, gestational carriers.

In fact, this quick freeze technique has made oocyte banks possible.

Ask your Infertility specialist if vitrification may be appropriate for your case.

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