Frozen embryos afford IRMS patients the opportunity to expand their families in the future. Frozen embryos maintain their reproductive potential because there is no deterioration while they are in this vitrified state. An additional advantage is the embryos are associated with the age of the woman’s egg at the time it was fertilized. Therefore, if a patient goes through a full IVF cycle at age 35, with subsequent FET’s at 37 and again at 39, she is really using eggs from her 35-year-old self. Younger eggs are always preferred as they yield higher chances of chromosomal normalcy and higher pregnancy rates.
Advantages Of Frozen Embryos In IVF
The ability to freeze and thaw embryos, eggs and sperm through the process of vitrification is one of the greatest advances in ART (Assisted Reproductive Technology) to date. Many fertility patients who undergo IVF are able to realize the added benefits of frozen embryos.
Freezing technology, by means of vitrification (flash freeze) has progressed so far that frozen embryos can now offer patients success rates as high as that of fresh embryos.
While not all patients will have embryos available for freezing after a fresh IVF cycle, patients with good ovarian reserve have an excellent chance of freezing embryos for future FET (Frozen Embryo Transfer) cycles.
Additional Benefits From Frozen Embryos
More chances at success – With frozen embryos, you have additional opportunities for transfer and therefore more pregnancy attempts. If you are able to freeze and store embryos while you are attempting a fresh cycle transfer, if the fresh cycle is unsuccessful, you can try again without undergoing another ovarian stimulation or egg retrieval. So, your cumulative pregnancy rate increases overall from one IVF cycle.
FET (Frozen Embryo Transfers) are less costly than fresh cycles – Following a fresh IVF cycle, subsequent FET cycles are less costly because medication is relatively minimal and there is no egg retrieval or anesthesia. With SET (Single Embryo Transfer) there may be multiple FET cycle opportunities after just one egg retrieval which again increases your cumulative pregnancy rate from one IVF.
FET cycles are easier to schedule – For most of our patients, FET cycles can be scheduled when it is most convenient for them. Once you are scheduled for your FET, we will start prescribing oral estrogen so that your uterine lining is ready for the transfer. Progesterone injections will then be introduced so your body can support a pregnancy.
Frozen Embryos Allow For Genetic Testing
PGT-A also known as PGS (preimplantation genetic screening) is a test that examines the chromosomal material of an embryo. It can tell if the appropriate number of chromosomes are present (46), or if an abnormal number of chromosomes are present. We only want to transfer chromosomally normal embryos.
In the PGT-A process, IVF is performed and the resulting embryos are incubated. Once incubated anywhere from Day 5 to 7 of embryo development, an embryo biopsy is performed. The biopsy is when an embryologist carefully removes a small cell sample from each embryo and that sample is tested to determine if the embryo is normal. Then, only normal, healthy embryos are used for transfer back to the uterus. PGT-A can be seamlessly added to an IVF cycle to significantly increase the chances of success. Because our focus is on individualized care, your IRMS physician will counsel you as to whether PGT-A is the very best option in your unique case.
PGT-M formerly known as PGD ( preimplantation genetic diagnosis), is for couples who already know they are at increased risk for passing on a single gene disorder. PGT-M can be performed much like PGT-A but in this case, the test is unique to the specific disorder. Some examples of single gene disorders include:
Sickle cell anemia, cystic fibrosis, Tay-Sachs, hemophilia and Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.
PGT-SR for structural rearrangements – most commonly balanced translocations when someone has all the right amounts of chromosomal material but part of one chromosome has switched places or translocated with another. This increases the risk of chromosomally abnormal or unbalanced eggs and sperm which can increase the risk for infertility, miscarriages and birth defects.