Cryopreservation of Oocytes


Oocyte (egg) cryopreservation is not as common as embryo cryopreservation, but it is gaining in popularity. Many patients find oocyte cryopreservation more acceptable than embryo cryopreservation since oocytes must be fertilized and cultured before they have life-sustaining capabilities.


Freezing of oocytes is also becoming an option for women who wish to postpone childbearing until a later point in their life. As a woman ages, the potential of having a baby using her own eggs diminishes rapidly. A woman wishing to retrieve and store eggs at a younger age can have those eggs thawed to create embryos for transfer at the time that fits into her life schedule.


Additionally, Virginia IVF and Andrology Centerís Anonymous Donor Egg Programs freezes oocytes from donor cycles. This allows patients the option of choosing oocytes from our "Egg Bank".


Frozen oocytes will be stored in our cryostorage facility under our storage policy.


Deciding What to do with Excess Cryopreserved Oocytes


Virginia IVF and Andrology Center understands the sensitive nature of the existence of oocytes created through the in-vitro fertilization (IVF) process. For various reasons, patients may decide that they no longer wish to store their oocytes for future use. Under these circumstances the patients have essentially three choices on what to do with their cryopreserved oocytes, once they have made the final decision not to personally use them. The following gives a brief explanation of the available choices:


  1. Discard
    Many patients feel most comfortable having their oocytes discarded. Following receipt of the patientís consent, the IVF laboratory staff will remove the oocytes from the cryopreservation tank and discard them through our medical waste disposal process. Medical waste will ultimately be incinerated.


    Virginia IVF and Andrology Center neither encourages nor discourages discarding oocytes.


  2. Donate to Research
    Some patients would like to have their oocytes donated for medical research. There a variety of potentially important research studies for which oocytes can be used. It is Virginia IVF and Andrology Centerís policy that no oocyte research can be performed without approval for that specific research protocol by an Institutional Review Board (IRB). An IRB is an independent body constituted of medical, scientific, and non-scientific members whose responsibility is to ensure the protection and rights, safety, and well-being of human subjects involved in a research study. Utilizing an IRB for oocyte research assures that the research is considered morally and ethically acceptable, and that any patient information is kept protected and anonymous.
    All Oocytes donated for research are stored at Virginia IVF and Andrology Center until such time as its IRB deems a research project acceptable.


    Virginia IVF and Andrology Center neither encourages nor discourages the donation of oocytes for research purposes.


  3. Donate for Attempted Pregnancy
    Some patients would like to donate their oocytes to infertile patients who would like to attempt pregnancy. This donation process can be anonymous or directed.


    a. Anonymous Donation
    The Virginia IVF and Andrology Center has an anonymous oocyte donation program whereby patients who have donated their oocytes are matched to a recipient patient without the identity of either known to each other. If there are suitable numbers of oocytes for donation, the donating patient will be asked to provide their genetic information, which is reviewed by a genetic counselor. In addition to extensive blood testing, donating patients will be asked to undergo a medical exam and be asked some specific medical history questions in order to eliminate the risk of disease transmission.


    b. Directed Donation
    Patients may wish to donate their oocytes to someone they know. This directed donation may be to a family member, a friend, or someone else to whom the donating couple may want to donate their oocytes . To donate oocytes, the donating patient will be asked to provide her genetic information, which is reviewed by a genetic counselor In addition to extensive blood testing, donating patients will be asked to undergo a medical exam and be asked some specific medical history questions in order to eliminate the risk of disease transmission.


    There are several non-profit oocyte donation agencies that assist donors and recipients in directed oocyte donation. For some patients, the idea that a child genetically related to them may end up living in proximity to them makes donation a difficult decision. If patients have these concerns, they may wish to utilize an oocyte donation agency (at no cost to the donor) and donate their oocytes to a patient in another area of the country. Under such circumstances, theVirginia IVF and Andrology Center would ship the cryopreserved oocytes to a reputable IVF facility in that area, and the oocytes would be thawed, inseminated and transferred to the recipient.


    Virginia IVF and Andrology Center neither encourages nor discourages the donation of oocytes to anonymous or directed recipients.


Deciding what to do with remaining cryopreserved oocytes can be very difficult for patients. The Virginia IVF and Andrology Center encourages all patients to explore all possibilities. We welcome you to obtain as much information as possible to make a meaningful and informed decision. There is a wealth of information and advice regarding pre-embryo disposition available on the internet. Feel free to give us a call at 804-323-9980 if we can be of further assistance.