Embryo cryopreservation means freezing embryos. Often during an in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycle, more embryos are created than can be used in one cycle. For instance, in someone less than 35 years old it is not uncommon to have 4 or more good quality embryos. We are, however, limited in the number of embryos that we want to transfer because as the number we transfer increases so does the risk of twins, triplets etc. Therefore, in someone less than 35 we typically transfer one or two embryos. If we have 4 embryos and transfer 2, one option is to freeze the other two embryos so that they can be used in future fertility cycles.
How is embryo cryopreservation done?
There are many ways of cryopreserving embryos. At the Advanced Reproductive Center we use a method called vitrification. Vitrification means that we cool the embryos at an extremely fast rate to get an almost instantaneous freeze. Any time embryos are frozen and then thawed there is the possibility that they will not survive. Using vitrification, we have been able to achieve a very high freeze thaw survival rate which translates into a higher chance of success for our patients.
Why is embryo cryopreservation done?
Embryo cryopreservation is usually done for one of two reasons: 1) to cryopreserve excess embryos that are created during and IVF cycle or 2) as part of a fertility preservation cycle. During an IVF cycle sometimes more embryos are created than can be used in one cycle. By cryopreserving these embryos we maintain the ability to use them in a subsequent fertility treatment cycle. Studies using cryopreserved embryos indicate that the success rates are about the same, maybe even higher, than with fresh embryos. So, if the fresh cycle fails having cryopreserved embryos gives a second chance at success. If the fresh cycle is successful then the cryopreserved embryos can be used some time in the future, if the parents decide they want to have another child. In cases where a woman is at risk for losing her fertility embryos can be cryopreserved as a means of preserving fertility for the future. This is called fertility preservation. For more information on fertility preservation click here.
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To learn more about embryo cryopreservation, contact the Advanced Reproductive Center. To schedule an appointment call us at 815-229-1700, or fill out the form below and we will contact you.