Slow vs fast
Cryopreservation is a vital tool for preserving eggs and embryos for later use. This method is tried and tested and works by gradually decreasing the temperature to freezing before storage. Vitrification is an advanced form of cryopreservation, with the goal of freezing the reproductive material as quickly as possible. The process uses liquid nitrogen, which can reach sub-zero temperatures in a few seconds. Both cryopreservation and vitrification are effective. However, there are 3 additional benefits to flash freezing compared with the conventional slow freeze process.
1. Higher survival rate
The accumulation of ice crystals is a common side effect of cryopreservation. These crystals can damage the egg or embryo’s delicate inner and outer structure. When the embryologist thaws the specimen, there is a chance the cell membrane ruptures. This rupture decreases the quality of the embryo. Vitrification uses very cold liquid nitrogen temperatures to convert from liquid to solid quickly. This prevents the formation of crystals, so almost all cells are still intact when thawed.
2. Boost success
A higher survival rate means a higher success rate too. Vitrification preserves the same structure, meaning the chances of success improves. Studies show an increase in successful fertilization for eggs and implantation for embryos when flash freezing is used.
3. Preserve fertility
Flash freezing has opened the door for the successful preservation of reproductive material. With this process, more women can preserve high-quality eggs for use at a later date. Some women want to pursue work goals, while others are waiting for the best possible partner. Faster, safer freezing ensures the IVF process is available to more women and couples desiring a baby.
The future of freezing
Cryopreservation is essential for future IVF cycles. The fertility clinic can save eggs or embryos for later. This is especially important for women who want to delay pregnancy or patients who do not achieve success with an initial IVF cycle. Now, clinics are turning to vitrification to preserve more embryos with higher success rates. A quicker freeze can improve the chances of bringing home a healthy baby when the time is right.