When a surplus number of a woman’s eggs have been retrieved and subsequently fertilized, there may be multiple viable embryos available. An optimal number of embryos are implanted into a woman’s uterus depending on certain embryonic and maternal factors. However, there may also be many high-quality, viable embryos that are remaining even after implantation. The process of freezing these embryos is known as cryopreservation of embryo. Basically, cryopreservation refers to the preservation of any substances that are susceptible to damage caused by time or chemical reactivity, by cooling them to sub-zero temperatures. Cryopreservation is usually performed for future use. If embryos are of good quality, they may be frozen at any stage, pronuclear, early cleaved or blastocyst embryos.The Progress of Cryobiology In Recent Times
Embryo freezing is an integral part of the initial treatments. However, the embryo survival rates as well as the chances of pregnancy were low compared to fresh. The structure of the embryo in question used to be damaged mainly because of the formation of crystals in the interior of the embryo. This resulted in a poor prognosis. But in recent times, the field of cryobiology has progressed substantially, as have the new techniques that are used for the preservation of embryos. Techniques such as these are referred to as ‘vitrification’ and involve preparing the embryos with high concentrations of protective substances, so that the formation of intracellular ice is prevented by the liquid medium. After thawing, the embryo is intact, with a survival rate of over 90%. This increases the chances of successful implantation.Advantages & Applications
Cryopreservation of embryos has several benefits. Main one is that it increases the possibility for conception through IVF and prevents viable embryos from being discarded. Freezing embryos gives couples a higher chance of becoming pregnant in the future, if they so choose, with minimal effort. Treatment with fresh embryos usually ends with pregnancy in many cases. If a couple decides that they want to complete their family sometime down the line, the frozen embryos may be transferred in a subsequent years. With cryopreservation, couples do not need to start the entire IVF process all over again. Couples may schedule another treatment right away if a fresh IVF treatment does not end in pregnancy, simply by thawing the extra embryos conveniently and promptly.
Another advantage of cryopreservation is that the risk for multiple gestations is reduced, as IVF technicians have to transfer fewer embryos in a fresh cycle. If a patient is at risk of multiple gestations, the risks associated to this severe overstimulation are diluted if all embryos are frozen for transfer in a subsequent cycle. Cryopreservation is also suggested if issues such as poor endometrial development, the presence of endometrial polyps, patient illness, or significant break through bleeding near the time of embryo transfer could compromise embryo implantation.
At times when IVF experts find it difficult to navigate the endocervical canal at the time of a fresh embryo transfer, due to reasons such as cervical stenosis, a condition wherein the cervix is scarred or narrow), cryopreservation may be recommended.
The success rate of an oocyte donation cycles is improved with embryo cryopreservation. It is also a great option for those patients who are currently undergoing cancer treatments, but wish to explore parenthood after successfully completing their treatments.
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