Ovarian Tissue Cryopreservation

Last Updated: June 8, 2019

Definition - What does Ovarian Tissue Cryopreservation mean?

Ovarian tissue cryopreservation is a method of preserving immature eggs by freezing the outer layer of the ovary for future use. When the frozen cells are thawed and then transplanted back to the ovary or fallopian tube, they can regain the function of an ovary and start producing eggs and hormones. Ovarian tissue cryopreservation is a potential fertility preservation option for women who are likely to develop infertility from cancer treatment. Ovarian tissue cryopreservation is still in clinical trials and not widely available as a fertility treatment method.

Ovarian tissue cryopreservation is also called ovarian tissue freezing and ovarian tissue banking.

FertilitySmarts explains Ovarian Tissue Cryopreservation

Laparoscopic or rarely open surgery is performed to obtain the whole ovary or a part of it for this procedure. There are numerous Immature eggs in the outer layer of the ovary in the form of primordial follicles. These cells can withstand freezing, and when warmed back to body temperature, they are able to mature into eggs that are cable of developing into an embryo.

Cancer treatment in females, either chemotherapy or radiation can destroy cells in the ovaries which makes an individual infertile. Most of the times, the treatment of cancer becomes the priority even if the person has not completed their family. In such instances, ovarian tissue cryopreservation can be performed prior to treatment and after the cancer is cured the preserved ovarian tissue can be used to achieve a normal pregnancy.

Egg freezing and embryo freezing are commonly practiced in assisted reproductive technology, during which grown eggs obtained from the ovary are frozen either before or after fertilization with sperm cells. In contrast to egg freezing, ovarian tissue cryopreservation preserves thousands of immature eggs that can become mature eggs in the future.

Age is an important factor in female fertility. A natural decline in fertility occurs at around the fourth decade of life and reaching menopause marks the end of fertility. Ovarian tissue cryopreservation can potentially help women who wish to have a higher success rate at fertility later in their life.

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