Embryo cryopreservation or embryo freezing is a technique used to preserve embryos by cooling them and storing them at extremely low temperatures. Frozen embryos can then be used in a later cycle. Frozen embryos have been successfully used for nearly three decades to create healthy babies. There does not appear to be any increased risk of birth defects from frozen and thawed embryos and there does not appear to be any deterioration that occurs over time.
Recently, there has been a movement towards electively freezing embryos and then transferring them in a subsequent cycle. This technique appears to improve implantation rates in some patients. Additionally, freezing embryos will allow for an embryo to be biopsied and the DNA analyzed so that only the healthiest embryos can be subsequently transferred. Tremendous advances in cryopreservation techniques including vitrification and precise rewarming of embryos has allowed well over 90% of embryos to successfully freeze and thaw, and many of these to implant and result in healthy ongoing pregnancies.
Embryo cryopreservation represents the latest in cutting-edge technology for couples that are looking for the most effective, most successful ways to delay childbearing and preserve fertility. The reasons for this choice are varied, and can range from the pressures of furthering career or education to decisions being driven by medical challenges.
Where in the past, the decision to delay getting pregnant has created the very real risk of future problems in conceiving, embryo cryopreservation eliminates those concerns. The technique utilizes a fast freeze method known as vitrification that allows embryos and eggs to be preserved indefinitely for future use. This means that women no longer need to fear the impact that aging may have on their ability to have healthy babies, as eggs for embryo cryopreservation can be retrieved early in her reproductive life and preserved for future use. Additionally, those embryos created as part of an IVF treatment can be saved for use for a future pregnancy, greatly reducing the risk of secondary infertility.
In addition to providing women and couples with the freedom to become pregnant at the time that is best for them, embryo freezing offers the advantages of Preimplantation Genetic Screening, a process in which a five-day-old embryo is biopsied before being cryopreserved to determine whether any chromosomal abnormalities are present. The healthier the embryo, the higher the likelihood that a healthy pregnancy and child will be the end result.
Recent advances in embryo preservation have meant that over 90 percent of embryos that have gone through the process have been successfully frozen and thawed, with many being successfully implanted and resulting in healthy pregnancies.
RMA of New York physicians are regularly featured in the media speaking about egg freezing. View our latest here:
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