Ovarian tissue freezing refers to freezing a part of or the entire ovary for the purpose of fertility preservation. It is an experimental procedure and since its introduction in the early 2000s, there have been limited number of births following the transplantation of frozen-thawed ovarian tissue. In some of these cases, one of the ovaries was removed and transplanted back into the pelvic area following chemo or radiation therapy. Therefore, in some of these cases the ovary that was left in-situ may have given rise to the pregnancy rather than the frozen-transplanted ovarian tissue, especially in those who received fertility medications resulting in multiple ovulations from both ovaries.
Whereas this technology is still in its infancy and considered experimental, the following are some of the potential indications:
Ovarian tissue freezing is conducted by surgical removal of the ovaries followed by removal of the stromal layer of the ovary, leaving the cortical part for freezing. Next, the ovary is cut into small pieces and frozen in liquid nitrogen. When chemotherapy and/or radiation treatment is completed and the patient is ready for pregnancy, tissue is thawed and transplanted surgically. Hormone levels can be measured and egg development can be monitored to assess if the transplanted ovary resumes its function.