Embryo Cryopreservation (Freezing)- Reducing the Cost of IVF Cycles
Sometimes more embryos are produced in an IVF cycle than can be safely transferred to the uterus. Transferring “too many” embryos can result in an increased chance of high order (>2) multiple births. The number of embryos transferred is determined for each recipient based upon many variables.
When there are “extra” embryos patients often choose to have them cryopreserved (frozen). Cryopreserved embryos can be used in future frozen embryo transfer treatment cycles (instead of fresh IVF cycles) greatly reducing cost and potential FSH medication side effects. Since the embryos have already formed, ovulation induction is not necessary.
Cryopreservation is a delicate process requiring meticulous skill and patience. The embryos are placed in sequential solutions gently lowering their temperature and removing water. Water is removed to prevent the formation of ice crystals which can destroy the embryo. Eventually, the embryos reach the appropriate cryopreservation temperature. Likewise, embryo thawing is a delicate sequential process that must be undertaken with great care. Our infertility specialists and embryologists have extensive experience with all aspects of ART including embryo cryopreservation.
Typically, IVF success rates using cryopreserved embryos are slightly lower than “fresh cycles”. The length of time an embryo can be preserved is unknown; however, pregnancies have been produced from embryos over ten years old. Based upon other cryopreservation models, the embryos should remain viable indefinitely.