Embryo Freezing – infertility treatment

This is one of the latest techniques in fertility treatment in that it offers women the chance of postponing pregnancy until a later date.
An embryo is frozen using liquid nitrogen and remains in a dormant state until it is required. It is then thawed out where upon it behaves as normal.

It is also known as ‘cryopreservation’ which sounds very similar to cryogenics. Cryogenics is the science of placing someone in cold storage with the aim of reanimating them at a later date.

How does embryo freezing work?

This process operates in the same way. It is a highly complex and precise procedure which involves using IVF. An egg and sperm are combined in a controlled setting via a laboratory which results in fertilisation. This fertilisation leads to the formation of an embryo.

The embryo is frozen using liquid nitrogen which stops all biological processes. The embryo is in a state of suspended animation and stays in this state until it is needed.

The embryo is then slowly thawed out and its biological processes reactivated.

The advantages of embryo freezing

The main advantage is that you can choose to delay pregnancy until you are ready which many couples are opting for in today’s society. There are a variety of reasons as to why women are choosing to wait until they are older before starting to family but it is reassuring to know that this option is available.

A major factor here is that your ovaries along with the rest of your body, age over time and this reduces your chances of conceiving, especially after the age of 35. So it is a good idea to have this done whilst you are still young.

You have a sample of eggs removed whilst you are still young and healthy. These eggs are then fertilised via in-vitro fertilisation and the embryos frozen until required.

This is also a good option for women at risk of developing ovarian cancer.

The disadvantages of embryo freezing

This is a complicated procedure which requires a great deal of skill and expertise. And because it is a relatively new procedure there is little evidence to show the long term effects of this.

And the process itself is so precise that there is a fine line between success and failure.

Problems include the failure of the embryo to survive the freezing process and the risks of birth defects and genetic abnormalities. The risks of a birth defect or genetic abnormality have been raised but they are as yet unproven.

Cost is another factor: there are only a few clinics which perform this procedure and it is very expensive.

This is also a highly controversial procedure which some couples will object to on ethical and moral grounds.

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