Published: Fri, January 12, 2018
Medical | By Johnnie Horton

Frozen embryos just as effective as fresh alternative in IVF treatment

Frozen embryos just as effective as fresh alternative in IVF treatment

11, 2018 The chances of having a baby after in vitro fertilization (IVF) are similar for most women whether frozen or fresh embryos are used, a new study finds.

"Previous research has shown that women who experience infertility because of PCOS benefit from significantly higher live birth rates from frozen embryos in IVF procedures, but evidence was lacking for this approach in non-PCOS patients", the University of Adelaide's Ben Mol said in a media release on Thursday.

The findings were published January 10 in the New England Journal of Medicine. Multiple embryos result in multiple births, but also come with many complications.

Women were given one cycle of IVF, where either a transfer of fresh embryos occurred, or all embryos were frozen and one cycle of thawed embryos occurred subsequently without the use of IVF drugs. But the fact that thawed embryos "produce the same pregnancy rate with less complications should transform the way in-vitro fertilization is practiced", Vuong said.

Coutifaris says that it's clear that frozen embryos are more effective for some women undergoing IVF, specifically women who have PCOS or who may be prone to hyperstimulation when they are treated with hormones.

Women using frozen embryos had a 0.6% chance of developing OHSS, versus a 2% chance for women receiving embryos that had not been frozen.

Researchers from the University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Vietnam and University of Adelaide in Australia showed that ongoing pregnancy rates and live births were equivalent in a group of IVF women implanted with frozen embryos compared with fresh embryos.

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"It's good that [clinicians] will be able to advise patients that frozen-embryo transfer is as good as fresh, because historically frozen has not been as good". Coutifaris was not involved with the study. "So to apply the rule to everybody that we should freeze your embryos is probably not correct".

"It's not an easy process to go through... the probability of falling pregnant was quite low back then through IVF, for me certainly", Monroe, 51, said.

It was her frozen embryos that gifted her two daughters, Melissa, now 20 years old, and Ashley, 17.

In the second, of 782 women without PCOS, live birthrates were 33.8 percent for the frozen-embryo group and 31.5 percent for the fresh, again an insignificant difference.

Neither study found a higher risk of neonatal or obstetrical complications in either group, although frozen embryo transfer produced a statistically lower risk of over-stimulated ovaries, which leads to swollen and painful ovaries and is potentially unsafe. They also implanted, on average, two at a time. The live birth rate among those with frozen embryos was 49%, compared to 50% among those with fresh embryos.

Before freezing methods were refined, fresh embryos were the only option, but as cryopreservation techniques improved, freezing embryos so that not all of the healthiest ones had to be transferred to the woman immediately became more popular.

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