What To Expect in an Oocyte Cryopreservation Program

Women who have been determined to be good candidates for oocyte cryopreservation need to know what to expect. There are generally multiple steps to this process, including ovulation induction, egg retrieval and freezing.

Ovulation induction begins at the beginning of your menstrual cycle. During this period, you will be given synthetic hormones that stimulate your ovaries to produce multiple eggs as opposed to a single egg that normally develops each month. These medications include follicle-stimulating hormone or gonadotropins, as well as medications that prevent premature ovulation, such as a gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonist or a gonadotropin-releasing hormone antagonist, depending on how your body responds to the ovarian stimulants.

During treatment, vaginal ultrasound would be performed in order to monitor the development of ovarian follicles. Blood tests also will be used to measure how your body is responding to ovarian stimulation medications. Estrogen levels usually increase as follicles develop, whereas and progesterone levels remain low until after ovulation.

After eight to fourteen days, the follicles are ready for egg retrieval. At this point, injections of HCG are given to help the eggs mature.

Egg retrieval is a surgical procedure that is performed under sedation, typically in a clinic. This is usually performed by using transvaginal ultrasound aspiration. During this procedure, an ultrasound probe is inserted into your vagina to locate and identify the ovaries and the follicles in the nearby pelvic cavity. A needle is then guided into a follicle. The egg is then removed from the follicle via suction. Multiple eggs can be removed from your follicles in the span of 30 minutes.

After egg retrieval procedure, some symptoms may include cramping, as well as sensation of fullness or pressure in the abdominal area, which might continue for a few weeks.

If your ovaries not accessible through transvaginal ultrasound, a laparoscopic procedure may be performed. This means that the needle is to be guided by a slender viewing instrument, which is inserted through a tiny incision near your navel.

After the oocytes are harvested, they are cooled to subzero temperatures to preserve them for future use. Freezing an unfertilized egg is more difficult than a fertilized egg (embryo), due to several characteristics. As a result, your health care team might apply special techniques, which may include the use of cryoprotectants, slow-freezing,or vitrification.

Within a week of egg retrieval, you will have recovered sufficiently to be able to resume normal activities. Although the procedure is generally safe, there may be complications, and you may experience a variety of side effects as a result. It is important to consult your physician if you feel any of the following symptoms:
• Fever higher than 38.6˚ C
• Severe abdominal pain
• Weight gain of more than 2 pounds (0.9 kg) within a 24 hour span
• Vaginal bleeding: filling more than two sanitary napkins per hour
• Difficulty urinating