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Conventionally, in an IVF cycle, we would always transfer fresh embryos. We would select the best quality embryos and then transfer these; the hope was that these would implant. In case there were any embryos of a good quality left over, these would then be frozen for future use. In case an IVF cycle failed, we could use the frozen embryos in the next cycle. This helps us maximize the chances of success.
Should you opt for frozen embryos or fresh ones?
There was a time when people doubted whether the frozen embryos would be as good as fresh one. However, now that the vitrification procedure is used, the quality of the embryos is very good and in many cases, they seem to be better than the fresh ones. Though this sounds a little unlikely, there are a number of reasons why this is the case:
- Like I mentioned earlier, the embryo freezing technology has improved a great deal- this is because vitrification is being used
- The embryos survive even after being thawed. Of course, it’s important that the embryologist have the experience and the expertise to do this in the right manner
- The implantation rates of the embryos is far better because the lining of the endometrium is much more receptive in a frozen cycle than it is in a fresh cycle
In a fresh cycle, we are more focused on growing a larger number of eggs. The patient is given hormones that help in superovulatuion. Though this helps produce more eggs, they distort the receptivity of the endometrium. Even though the emdometrium looks normal on an ultrasound scan, it may just not be able to optimally receive the embryo.
In the case of a frozen embryo cycle, the focus is more in preparing the endometrium with the hormones and this makes its more receptive for implantation- this is why the implantation rates with frozen embryos is much better than the cycles in which fresh embryos are used.
Embryo freezing- the disadvantages
There is a considerable improvement in the chances of embryo implantation post freezing and thawing. It’s also why many clinics now prefer to use frozen embryos as a standard, for all their patients and there are certain disadvantages to this approach:
- This takes much longer as the patients have to come back for a 2nd cycle; this means they have to be more patient
- Freezing and thawing entails additional costs and this makes the cycle more expensive
- It requires a great deal of lab expertise and the clinic will need a full time embryologist to freeze & thaw the embryos.
Read more- Embryo Freezing : Embryo Cryopreservation
There has been significant advancement in embryo freezing technology. The chances of success are much higher when frozen embryos are used in an IVF cycle.
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