For many patients, unfertilized egg or embryo cryopreservation can be an essential part of the in vitro fertilization (IVF) fertility treatment process. Through cryopreservation, fertilized dividing embryos or unfertilized eggs (oocytes) can be preserved for future use. Because each couple’s fertility challenges are unique, our physicians and our entire staff are dedicated to providing a wide range of fertility treatments.
There are many benefits of oocyte and embryo cryopreservation. When used as part of the IVF treatment process, cryopreservation can increase the likelihood of achieving pregnancy for many patients. Cryopreservation also allows couples to continue to see their families grow as IVF cycles can be repeated, years later, from the same group of eggs originally recovered for treatment.
During an IVF cycle, between 10 and 30 eggs can typically be recovered from the ovary. While it is likely that not all of these eggs will be deemed appropriate for cryopreservation, the process frequently allows couples to save a number of eggs for multiple conception attempts. In some cases, this can lead to successful treatment without the use of fertility drugs. It also reduces the likelihood that another egg retrieval procedure will be required. The number of embryos transferred depends on the number of eggs available, age, and other factors that are unique to each patient. In some cases, cryopreservation makes single embryo transfer a viable option. When health or other factors make conception more difficult, a multiple embryo transfer is frequently recommended.
Oocyte or embryo cryopreservation also increases the likelihood of future pregnancy when conception otherwise might not be possible. When diagnosed with cancer, for instance, many women choose to preserve oocytes or embryos prior to undergoing treatments that may affect fertility. More commonly, when a woman plans to have a family in the future and she is concerned about her age and the effect it may have on egg quality, cryopreservation can help provide peace of mind.
Vitrification (freezing) is the newest technique for freezing eggs or embryos used in IVF procedures. The latest advances in vitrification technology have allowed frozen embryo success rates to be almost as high as using fresh embryos.
Using vitrification, IVF patients can delay transfers into the future with results almost identical to a fresh embryo transfer. With advanced vitrification, transfers can be spaced out, giving every embryo a better possibility of creating a pregnancy. After the embryos have been vitrified a frozen embryo transfer (FET) cycle can be scheduled for another time in the future.
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What is an FET?
A Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET) cycle usually takes place in the next month during a woman’s menstrual cycle.
Steps in an FET cycle include:
- The endometrial lining is first prepared with estrogen.
- Progesterone is started on a selected day which allows synchronization of the uterus with the frozen embryo.
- Prior to the scheduled transfer, the embryo(s) are thawed.
Freezing embryos followed by an FET cycle provides an IVF patient with an ideal opportunity for a viable pregnancy.