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Cryopreservation of Eggs

Part of the Methods in Molecular Biology book series (MIMB,volume 1154)


Oocyte cryopreservation is playing an increasingly important role in the field of human infertility treatment. The ability to store viable oocytes for later use has given many women the option to delay childbearing in order to pursue other ventures in life, without the concern of losing the opportunity to have a family. Furthermore, oocyte cryopreservation is very valuable for diseased patients who have to undergo treatments that may compromise fertility. Also, infertility patients who produce large numbers of oocytes during a retrieval cycle now have the option of storing some eggs prior to fertilization, thereby reducing the number of embryos that have to be managed. Lastly, oocyte cryopreservation enables egg donation programs that are independent of fresh donations, which makes it possible for numerous recipients to benefit from a single donor.

Traditionally, slow freezing was the only method available for oocyte cryopreservation. However, recent years have shown that ultrarapid cooling of oocytes results in higher survival and developmental rates. Thus, vitrification is today’s preferred method of oocyte cryopreservation and therefore the only technique described.

In this chapter, we present two reliable methods of oocyte vitrification that have been in use for several years and that have been experimentally validated. Since no single vitrification method is clearly superior to the rest, other systems are also briefly described to give the reader options when deciding which methods to utilize in their practice.

Key words

  • Oocyte cryopreservation
  • Vitrification
  • Egg freezing
  • Open pulled straw
  • Cryotop

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The authors would like to express their gratitude to the following individuals who shared valuable information regarding the various devices and protocols: Barry Behr, Ri-Cheng Chian, Vladimir Isachenko, Mitch Schiewe, Pierre Vanderzwalmen, and Gabor Vajta.

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Correspondence to Zsolt Peter Nagy .

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Nagy, Z.P., Nel-Themaat, L., Chang, CC., Shapiro, D.B., Berna, D.P. (2014). Cryopreservation of Eggs. In: Rosenwaks, Z., Wassarman, P. (eds) Human Fertility. Methods in Molecular Biology, vol 1154. Humana Press, New York, NY.

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