What are frozen embryos anyway?
For a successful pregnancy, healthy sperm and egg must combine to create an embryo. This multi-cell organism grows into a healthy fetus. Today, fertility clinics can extract an egg and create embryos in a lab with a sperm sample. During the process, the woman must take hormone medication to develop multiple eggs. These eggs are then surgically extracted, sometimes 10 or more at a time. Using the sample, the clinic creates several embryos. Of course, only one or two is necessary for pregnancy. So the rest are frozen for storage using liquid nitrogen.
Who needs frozen embryos?
Frozen embryos have some fantastic advantages. The process has allowed clinics to create embryo banks and donor egg banks. That means infertile couples can choose a donor embryo for implantation. Frozen embryos help perfectly fertile women, too, creating a brand new social niche. These women can delay pregnancy by freezing embryos for future family planning or marriage. Most of all, freezing embryos helps with the IVF process. Since there’s a 27% success rate on average, some women need more than one IVF cycle. That means the process can start again without the tedious task of extracting fresh embryos.
But is it safe?
There are some genuine concerns about the safety of embryo freezing. Is this process safe for women and embryos? The egg extraction and embryo creation process has been fine-tuned over the years. Without a doubt, the process is safe and is now a standard process of IVF. Clinics make sure to place several checks and balances to ensure a secure embryo creation. Of course, there are risks with any surgical or medical procedure. However, the clinic will outline any issues and let the hopeful parents know the safety steps and contingencies.
Surviving the thawing process
There are also concerns about the embryos. Can embryos survive the shock of being thawed for pregnancy? Even though there have been strides in reproductive technology, the process is not perfect. However, by creating multiple embryos, the clinic can improve the chances of a healthy embryo. And yes, there is a chance an embryo does not survive the thawing process. Though rare, others may get damaged due to human error. Overall, statistics show that 9 out of 10 embryos thawed survive. The increased survival rate is down to improved freezing techniques called vitrification.
PGT is another crucial step
Even with a high 90% survival rate, the thawed embryo may not successfully implant. The human reproductive process is imperfect at best. Even during a naturally occurring pregnancy, the chances are 20% or less. That’s because not every embryo has the required number of chromosomes for a successful pregnancy. Clinics can now perform preimplantation genetic testing (PGT) to check for the right number of chromosomes. PGT makes sure the best embryos are transferred for a safe pregnancy.
Trusting the process
Fertility clinics take care in freezing and thawing. The process is safe for the woman and the transferred embryo, although not all embryos survive the thawing process. However, there is still an excellent survival rate. And by extracting multiple embryos, clinics can increase the chances of pregnancy. Studies show that fresh and frozen embryos have the same success rates during IVF. If there are any concerns about the safety of the process, speak with a fertility specialist today.