Transferring frozen embryos allows us to maximize the chances of IVF success. Conventionally, we transfer fresh embryos in an IVF cycle. Typically, we select the best quality embryo/s and then transfer it; the only thing we could do at this stage was to hope they would implant. In case there were any supernannuary embryos of good quality left over, we would then freeze these. In the event that the fresh cycle failed, these frozen embryos would then be used for transfer in a subsequent cycle.
Fresh Vs Frozen Embryos
There was a time, not many years ago when frozen embryos wouldn’t even be considered for use, if it was possible to get fresh ones. The understanding was that the former weren’t as good as the latter. Today, there is complete change in this trend and many clinics are now observing that when they use frozen embryos, the pregnancy is much better, compared to fresh cycles. Though this may seem a little improbable if you use only logic to understand this, there are a number of reasons why this is the case:
- The technology used to freeze embryos has significantly improved.
- This is because the vitrification process is now being used for it- 100% of embryos tend to survive the thawing process as long as the embryologist is experienced and has the necessary expertise, frozen embryos have a much better chance of implanting.
- Frozen embryos have a much better rate of implantation; this is because the uterine lining(endometrium) is much more receptive in frozen cycles compared to fresh ones.
The Focus Point
When we do a fresh cycle, the priority is to grow as many eggs as possible. We use hormones for superovulation; these end up distorting the receptivity of the endometrium. And so, on an ultrasound, even if it seems like the endometrium is perfect, it may not really be optimally receptive to accept the embryo that has been transferred.
In comparison, when frozen embryos are being transferred, we are able to use the natural cycle. This means we are able to focus only on preparing the endometrium with hormones to ensure that it’s optimally receptive. And so , when we transfer good quality frozen embryos, we then have much better success rates.
Though there are distinct advantages to using frozen embryos, there are some disadvantages that can’t go without a mention either.
- Firstly, it takes far longer, as the patients are required to then come back for a 2nd cycle- this also means the patient will have to be much more patient.
- Since there are the additional costs of freezing and thawing, the overall cost of the procedure is higher as well.
- It requires a very high level of lab expertise, as only a full-time, experienced embryologist would be able to freeze and thaw the embryos.
Read more- Embryo Freezing : Embryo Cryopreservation
There has been a significant advancement in embryo freezing technology. When frozen embryos are being transferred, we are able to use the natural cycle. This means we are able to focus only on preparing the endometrium with hormones to ensure that it’s optimally receptive. Transferring frozen embryos gives allows us to maximize the chances of IVF success.
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