Friday, September 12, 2014

The magic of vitrifying IVF embryos

Can you make out which blastocyst is fresh ? and which one was vitrified and then thawed ?

Since I am an IVF specialist, I am a  scientist , and scientists don't usually use words like magic lightly. However, the fact of the matter is that vitrification really works magic when done properly.

In the past, when we had to freeze and store embryos, we would use the slow freezing method. This was always very stressful , because no matter how good the embryos and how skilled the embryologist , about 50% of the cells of the embryo would die , no matter what we did. This was because of ice crystal formation within the blastomeres, which would kill the cells.

With vitrification , on the other hand, which uses ultra-rapid freezing, because this problem of ice crystal formation is bypassed , there is no damage to the cells . In a good clinic, with a skilled embryologist , the surviving is nearly 100% when good quality embryos are vitrified.

In fact, the pregnancy rates after transferring vitrified embryos is actually better than with fresh embryos ! This is not because vitrification improves embryo quality, but because these embryos are being transferred to an endometrium which is optimally prepared to be receptive , thus increasing implantation rates. In a fresh cycle, often the endometrium is not as favourable for implantation. This is because the hormonal injections used for superovulation will often affect endometrial receptivity adversely.

However, vitrification is not always magical, because the results with vitrification to a large extent depend on the skill of the embryologist . There is a steep learning curve associated with vitrification , and lots of junior embryologists often end up killing the embryos , because they haven't mastered this challenging art.

This is why it's so important that you should ask for photos of your embryos – both before vitrification – and after thawing. In a good lab, it’s not possible to make out which embryos are fresh, and which have been thawed after vitrification !

Want more information on embryo freezing and how it improves IVF success rates ?
Please send me your medical details by filling in the form at so I can guide you sensibly ?

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous2:52 PM

    Hi Doctor,

    My IVF clinic's fresh embryo transfer rate is close to 50% and frozen transfer is 22%. They use vitrification and not slow freezing. Does it mean their embryologist is not skilled enough in Vitrification?



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