Cryopreservation is a much advanced and the most popular techniques of reproductive science that has helped many couples fight infertility and decide on for their future. Who would have thought that babies could actually “be planned?”
Embryo Cryopreservation or Embryo Freezing:
In the standard process of infertility treatment, ovaries are induced to collect eggs which are then fused with the sperms to form an embryo. The embryos are then transferred to the uterus to successfully begin the journey of pregnancy for a woman.
However there are instances where the embryos are not immediately transferred, there is an option to store the embryo by freezing it under suitable conditions to be used in the future. With this option available women do not need to undergo stimulation by fertility drugs in order to have an embryo transfer during the infertility treatment cycle. Embryo cryopreservation provides the opportunity to have an additional embryo transfer without any troubles and hassles also saving the expense for additional IVF cycle.
The stored embryos are then used at later stage, at the time of the IVF or other infertility treatment cycle. Not all frozen embryos qualify for being transferred to the uterus, there needs to be some criteria that the embryo need to possess for it t be successfully transferred and then continue with a successful journey of implantation.
How is Embryo Cryopreservation done?
The embryo is formed using the sperm and the egg retrieved from the ovaries. The cells comprise mostly water, so the major challenge that comes while embryo cryopreservation is the freezing of ice in between the cells. These ice crystals can damage the embryo and can harm the internal structure of the embryo. So to protect the embryo from these ice crystals some cryo-protective agents are used which act like the anti-freeze cells.
Oocyte Cryopreservation or Egg Freezing:
Oocyte Vitrification is an advanced form of cryopreservation in which the eggs undergo flash freezing. One or more unfertilized eggs (eggs that have not been fused with the sperm) are preserved to use them for future use. The stored eggs are then thawed to bring them back to their original shape and then mixed with the sperm to form an embryo and then placed in the uterus. It is very useful for women having cancer, who can easily have a baby after the radiation therapy.
Freezing Eggs v/s Freezing Embryos:
Both the procedures have been a blessing in disguise for couples fighting infertility. Each one of them has a different advantage and can be called different from one another. Time and back it was said that embryo freezing is more successful than egg freezing as embryos are considered less delicate than cells, but with the advancements in the field of reproductive biology even egg freezing has had great success rates after the introduction or “Vitrification or the flash freezing technique”.
Why is Embryo Cryopreservation or Oocyte Cryopreservation done?
Embryo cryopreservation or Oocyte preservation can be opted out by women who decide on to have a pregnancy at a later stage in life. The reasons for doing this can be many- both personal and professional. Some reasons as quoted by Dr Goral Gandhi, Scientific Director and leading IVF specialists at Indo Nippon IVF Mumbai are:
Do I need to give up on my career just to plan a family: Women these days are career oriented and they don’t feel the need to give their career graph a downfall amidst planning their family. Egg freezing has come out as a blessing for such ladies. They have an option of freezing their eggs and putting the biological clock on a hold for some time. They can later choose to conceive using their own frozen eggs.
I have cancer can I still be a mom? This method is also chosen by women undergoing any cancer treatment like chemotherapy etc. The eggs are stored before the surgery takes place and the frozen eggs can later be used to get pregnant.
For the second baby: When a couple has one baby and they wish to have another one they can use their stored eggs to fulfill this dream.
Help someone complete their dream of having a baby: The stored eggs or embryos can also be used to donate to the couple in need of having a baby by natural means.
Dr Goral Gandhi, Laboratory and Scientific Director, Indo Nippon IVF Mumbai is a leading IVF specialist who has decades of experience in the field of reproductive biology. She is an ace embryologist and a master in Egg freezing and other cryopreservation techniques. For more information related to Egg freezing or fertility preservation you may visit her clinic or call her on +91-9821618106 or mail her on [email protected]