The ABCs of Embryo Freezing

Embryo-freezing technology has come a long way over the years. The first successful pregnancy from freezing an embryo occurred in the 1980s. Thanks to the improvements in this field, success rates have more than doubled. 

So what exactly is embryo freezing? Why do people do it? And how is it done? 

Read on to learn the ABCs of embryo freezing.

What Is Embryo Freezing?

Embryo freezing is a voluntary and elective procedure that allows patients to store their embryos for use later in life. You can also store unfertilized eggs through this freezing method. The embryo is formed after fertilization when cell division starts.

How Much Does Embryo Freezing Cost?

Embryo freezing cost in Beverly Hills, CA, ranges between $5000 for eight embryos and $250 for each additional embryo. This price varies depending on where you want your eggs preserved and any extra services offered. The duration you would like your embryo preserved also affects the money you pay.

Why Do People Do Embryo Freezing?

Embryo freezing can be done by couples who intend to have children later on in life. The procedure can also be done with the intent of donating to people or couples who, for some reason, cannot produce their reproductive cells (ova/sperm) to create an embryo. Embryo freezing can also be done for medical research or training purposes.

How Is Embryo Freezing Done?

The embryo freezing process begins by injecting a woman with hormones and other medication to stimulate the production of viable and healthy eggs. The doctor will then extract the eggs for immediate freezing or external fertilization and freezing in the lab.

Any fertilized embryos are cryopreserved until they are ready for implantation in a healthy womb. During the freezing process, there is a risk to cell structure as it may be compromised by water within the cells crystalizing.

What Is the Advantage of Embryo Freezing?

Embryo freezing can help many people who want to have children later in life. People seeking embryo freezing services are usually either:

  • Advancing in age
  • Gender transitioning
  • Facing infertility issues
  • Social or personal reasons like traveling for work or pursuing studies or a career
  • About to undergo treatment that will damage their reproductive organs or impair their reproductive ability.
  • Before a military deployment

Single women may choose to cryopreserve their eggs or embryos in the hopes of having children sometime in their future.

What Are the Risks Associated With Embryo Freezing?

The process of embryo freezing and subsequent thawing for use does not pose any threat to resulting pregnancies. It is rare to get any congenital conditions or health problems. The main risks associated with embryo freezing include:

  • Damage to embryos during the freezing process
  • Embryos that are not viable for freezing
  • Failure to get pregnant after the thawed embryo does not implant successfully
  • There is an increased chance of multiple births after embryos have been implanted
  • An increased rate of medical issues for the mother, including preeclampsia and placenta accreta spectrum

However, research has shown that pregnancies resulting from frozen embryos result in lower preterm birth, birth weight, and growth restriction rates.

Embryo Freezing Q&A

What happens if I don’t use my frozen embryo?

If you end up not using your frozen embryo, here are a few things you can do with it:

  • Donate the embryos to someone else trying to have a baby
  • Donate the embryos to science and research
  • Discard them making them unusable
  • Donate them to educational purposes and institutes

It is normal for clients to freeze more embryos than they need and eventually have to figure out ways to discard embryos they will no longer use.

What factors affect the success rates in embryo transfers?

A few factors play a role in the success rate of embryo transfers.

  • Both parent’s overall health
  • The mother’s age at the time of egg retrieval
  • Presence of fertility issues such as fibroids and uterine polyps
  • Previous success or failure of fertility treatments and pregnancies
  • Your healthcare provider will help you understand your chances of success and the different things you can do to improve your chances of success.

How can I prepare to have embryos frozen?

Your doctor will have you come into the clinic for a consultation and a few tests. An ultrasound to ensure your ovaries are in good shape will be conducted. Once these tests are done, your doctor will give you medication to take depending on where you are in your cycle. These drugs can either be injectable or oral. It is best to stay in good health by exercising and eating a balanced diet to increase the chances of extracting a good number of viable eggs. Avoid taking alcohol, cigarettes, or other drugs since they may throw your body’s cycle off or interact with the prescribed medication.

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