Published: Fri, January 12, 2018
People | By Leon Thompson

Both fresh and frozen embryos offer similar chances of baby after IVF

Both fresh and frozen embryos offer similar chances of baby after IVF

Using frozen embryos for in-vitro fertilization (IVF) is as effective as using fresh embryos, an Australian study has found.

In a group of infertile women with normal ovulation, rates of live birth were almost 49 percent in those who received frozen embryos.

The study, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, investigated nearly 800 women who had infertility not related to polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).

The findings may encourage doctors to just implant one embryo at a time, lowering the risks that come when doctors try to implant more, producing multiple births and their associated complications.

"This new study shows that infertile women not suffering from PCOS have equivalent live IVF birth rates from frozen embryos, which is important news for infertile women worldwide".

Dr. Coutifaris, who is president of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, said a higher progesterone level may indicate that the development of the embryo and the womb are out of synch, and using a thawed embryo allows for better timing of the implantation.

The shift to frozen embryos was triggered by a landmark study in the field published in 2012, which found that frozen embryos actually were more likely to successfully implant in the uterus when transferred than fresh embryos - and theoretically more likely to result in a full-term pregnancy and live birth. "Some programs around the country won't do fresh transfers anymore", said Dr. Christos Coutifaris of the University of Pennsylvania's Perelman School of Medicine in Philadelphia, who was not connected with the new research.

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The authors noted: "There were also no significant differences between the groups in rates of implantation, clinical pregnancy, overall pregnancy loss, and ongoing pregnancy". "So to apply the rule to everybody that we should freeze your embryos is probably not correct". Each woman received up to two cleavage-stage embryos.

The rates of the syndrome in the Chinese study were 0.6 percent with frozen embryos and 2.0 percent with fresh. In the fresh embryo group, ongoing pregnancy occurred in 35% of the women and in the frozen embryo group, ongoing pregnancy occurred in 36%.

"Further research will be needed to compare pregnancy outcomes and live birth rates from other embryo freezing techniques", he said.

In addition, studies showed that some women who experience a condition called polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), in which the ovaries develop fluid-filled follicles and fail to release eggs, increased their chances of having a live baby when they used frozen embryos.

Mol warns that although many clinics are moving away from using fresh embryo transfers for IVF, the freezing process does make IVF more expensive, despite not resulting in higher rates of live births: "Couples concerned about such unnecessary costs of freezing all embryos do not need to go down that path, and will still have the same live birth success rate".

They also acknowledged several limitations, such as the limited generalizability due to the study's single center nature, and using only the Cryotech vitrification method.

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