Advantages and disadvantages of embryo cryopreservation

Like any other medical technology, embryo cryopreservation has its pros and cons. The former include:

  • The possibility of long-term (up to decades, and theoretically unlimited) storage of pre-accumulated embryos for future use. This is especially useful for women who are past reproductive age or who have lost the ability to conceive naturally due to illness, surgery, treatment for cancer, etc.
  • No need to repeat the ovarian stimulation procedure during repeated IVF attempts. This is especially true for women with high sensitivity to hormonal drugs. There is also no need for surgical intervention as part of an ovarian puncture.
  • The possibility of controlling the quality of the biomatrial. The most viable embryos are selected for cryopreservation. Embryologists carefully examine each embryo for possible congenital pathologies and chromosomal abnormalities.
  • The possibility of transferring preserved embryos to other women and couples who have problems with conception.

The main disadvantages of embryo cryopreservation include:

  • Loss of a certain number of viable embryos during the technological stages of vitrification. Today, this indicator has been minimized, but, nevertheless, it cannot be eliminated.
  • High cost of cryopreservation of embryos. It is necessary to pay for the storage of preserved biomaterial in a cryobank. If for any reason a woman or couple cannot pay for this service, the biomaterial is disposed of and its place in the vault is transferred to other clients.
  • Nevertheless, the advantages of embryo vitrification significantly outweigh the disadvantages of this technology. Today it is part of the standard of medical care for women and couples with diagnosed infertility.

Myths about embryo cryopreservation

Despite the prevalence of this assisted reproductive technology, a variety of myths persist around it in the minds of people. Let’s consider the most common of them.

Low efficiency. Frozen embryos are perceived as such a radical process that uninitiated people have questions about preserving their viability. In practice, the effectiveness of cryopreservation reaches 95%, which even exceeds that of a rapid transfer of “fresh” biomaterial.

High risk of fetal abnormalities. This myth can be considered a variation of the previous one, with the only difference that in the minds of many people cryopreservation leads not to the death of embryos, but to the appearance of their subsequent congenital abnormalities. This notion is also untrue – scientific research shows that properly performed freezing does not cause any abnormalities. Moreover, the least viable embryos are screened out in advance due to the preservation of embryos. Defrosting also involves a kind of “natural selection” – the strongest and healthiest embryos survive it, which also reduces their risk of congenital abnormalities.

Cryopreservation is only used in the treatment of infertility. Inability to conceive is indeed a medical indication for this procedure. However, embryos can be preserved by any woman – both for medical reasons and simply “as a reserve” for possible future use.

Cryopreservation makes it possible to conceive at any time. Freezing several embryos does increase the chances of pregnancy, as it allows several attempts at transplantation. However, they are far from 100 percent, they roughly correspond to the probability of conception with normal intercourse. That’s why most clinics recommend saving about 15 or even more embryos for the future.

After the age of 35, freezing embryos is not possible. Woman’s body completely stops producing eggs during menopause, which occurs on average by the age of 49-50. Prior to that period, her body produces germ cells, but their quality begins to decline sharply after the age of 35. If oocytes are obtained from her before this age, they produce mostly viable embryos. At a later age it is also possible, but the risk of chromosomal and other fetal abnormalities increases.

Cryopreservation of embryos in modern clinics follows strict rules and observes all medical standards. This ensures a high percentage of embryo survival and increases the chances of a successful pregnancy, including at a late age or in the presence of serious reproductive abnormalities.

Ask more at International Surrogacy Agency Delivering Dreams.

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