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The Center for Fertility and Gynecology

In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) and Freezing Embryos: Basic Info

By Michael Vermesh on August 30, 2014

Having fun with a child at the beachAt The Center for Fertility and Gynecology, our entire team is committed to helping patients throughout Los Angeles start the family they have always wanted. Many times this is accomplished through in vitro fertilization (IVF), a highly popular fertility treatment option that has helped patients achieve their goals.

We would like to take a moment right now to consider embryo freezing, which has become an effective method for addressing issues with fertility for many people.

About the In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) Process

Some basics about the IVF process first. IVF refers to a process in which eggs are harvested from a woman's ovaries in order to be fertilized in a lab setting before being placed back into the womb to be carried to term. This boosts the chances of pregnancy in couples that may be suffering from male infertility, female infertility, or a combination of both.

What is embryo freezing?

Embryo freezing refers to a process in which the fertilized eggs are preserved at very low temperatures in order to be used at a later time. The procedure is known as cryopreservation, and it's a means of saving tissues for later use without damaging the cells.

Why is embryo freezing performed?

Multiple eggs are harvested from the ovaries following ovulation induction in order to be fertilized. Rather than place all embryos into the womb, some patients may elect to have only one embryo placed. The other embryos can be preserved in case of unsuccessful treatment or in case a patient would like to undergo IVF again in the future for another child.

Keep in mind that embryo freezing can also be performed on blastocysts, which are basically embryos at an advanced level of cellular division.

The Embryo Freezing Process

There are two methods of cryopreservation that are commonly used at fertility centers:

  • Slow freezing - This involves a controlled rate of freezing in order to preserve cells
  • Vitrification - This involves an ultra-fast rate of cooling

The ideal option for you and your needs can be discussed in greater detail during your visit to the fertility center.

The Transfer of Frozen Embryos

The transfer of the frozen embryos will involve the careful thawing of the frozen embryos or blastocysts. The rest of the IVF process continues as normal following the thaw of the cells in question, with the transfer made to the mother or a surrogate carrier in order to be carried to term.

The Success Rates of Frozen Embryo Transfer

In general, the rates of success for frozen embryo transfer are comparable to those of fresh embryo transfer. This goes for both pregnancy and live birth rates. The age of the mother/provider of the eggs will make a difference with regard to these numbers, with younger mothers more likely to successfully give birth.

Some studies have suggested a lower rate of stillbirth and premature birth if frozen embryos are used rather than fresh embryos.

Is embryo transfer right for me?

Embryo transfer may be right for you, but keep in mind that it's just one of many different options to consider for advanced fertility treatment. When you stop by the practice for a consultation, we will be more than happy to go over all of your options for treatment in full detail.

Learn More About Advanced Fertility Treatment

For more information about embryo freezing, why cryopreservation may be right for you, and other matters related to the treatment of infertility, be sure to contact our fertility specialists today. At The Center for Fertility and Gynecology, we will be more than happy to answer all of your questions and address your concerns in full detail.

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