Friday, March 09, 2018

Freezing all your embryos in order to improve IVF success rates.

Patients have traditionally been reluctant to freeze their embryos because they're worried that freezing embryos will cause them to die. However, the reality is that the flash-freezing technology ( vitrification or ultra-rapid freezing) has become so good,  that survival rates are routinely 100% in good labs , when we freeze top-quality embryos.
When patients have lots of embryos, they're quite happy to freeze their spare embryos. They understand that we can't transfer all their embryos at one time, and they don't want to waste their extra embryos. However, the truth is that embryo freezing is even more valuable for women with very few embryos - even those who have only one.
When you have few embryos, each embryo is even more precious - it's literally worth its weight in gold ! Every top quality embryo has the potential to become a baby , but it will implant only if it is transferred into a receptive endometrium.
Now, the problem in  a fresh IVF cycle is that our focus is on helping you to grow lots of eggs, which is why we superovulate you with hormonal injections. While the endometrium looks fine because of the high estrogen levels this causes, its receptivity is often  compromised because of these supraphysiological hormone levels. After all, the primary goal was to grow eggs , not to prepare the endometrium. This means that even though the endometrium may look thick and trilaminar in a vaginal ultrasound scan, it may not be perfect for allowing implantation. This means that even if you put back a top quality embryo in this endometrium, it has a reduced chance of implanting.
This is why we suggest to all our patients that we freeze all their embryos - even if they have only 1-2. If these are top quality embryos, we can pretty much guarantee them that they will survive the thaw, so they aren't taking any risk. We can then transfer them in the next cycle , at which point our exclusive focus is on preparing the endometrium for optimal receptivity . This combination technique is the best method for ensuring that these precious embryos have the best chance of implanting and becoming a baby.
This " freeze-all" option is a standard treatment protocol offered all over the world, and we encourage our patients to opt for this. The downside is that it costs more ( because they have to pay for the freezing and thawing), and takes longer ( because they need to come back the next cycle for their transfer), but it's well worth it !
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