If you plan to have children later in life, you can think of going for embryo cryopreservation. Embryo preservation has been gaining a lot of popularity in recent years.
In this article, Dr. Hrishikesh Pai, from Bloom IVF clinic is one of the best IVF doctor from Nagpur will discuss embryo cryopreservation, its procedure and risks.
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What is cryopreservation?
Cells, organelles, tissues, extracellular matrix, organs, and other biological structures that are vulnerable to harm from chemical kinetics are preserved by cooling to extremely low temperatures.
Cryopreservation is used in medical sciences to help people who suffer from infertility issues. The first ever cryopreservation was done of sperm, and it was very successful, and cryopreservation has been used in IVF. Freezing sperm, eggs, ovarian tissue, and embryos has been successful and popular ever since.
What is Embryo Cryopreservation?
Cryopreservation, often known as embryo freezing, is a technique doctors use to freeze and retain extra embryos (fertilized eggs) produced during IVF, including intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). The embryos are frozen as the initial step in the cryopreservation process.
Dr. Hrishikesh Pai, one of the best IVF doctors in Nagpur says, for eventual usage in IVF, the frozen embryos are then kept and thawed as necessary. Because a woman won’t need to endure repeated egg retrievals or take as many drugs, patients now undergoing IVF can save time and money on subsequent cycles.
People typically decide to freeze their embryos to keep the option of becoming parents in the future open. People frequently think about cryopreservation for reasons including cancer treatment, aging, or risk of harm (from a medical condition or military deployment, for example).
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Who should go for embryo cryopreservation?
- Women who want to have children later in life
- Couples who want to have children later in life
- If you are undergoing cancer treatments like radiation therapy and hormone therapy.
What is the process of Embryo Cryopreservation?
Embryos can be frozen by vitrification (flash freezing) or slow programmed freezing, according to reproductive endocrinologists. Although the methods vary widely, they all involve chilling embryonic cells with different cryoprotectants (also known as “antifreeze” fluids).
Cryoprotectants protect biological tissue from harm by preventing water from crystallizing during the freezing process. The main component of all cells, including those developing into embryos, is water. When embryos are frozen, there is a risk that ice will form and harm the cells when they ultimately thaw, says Dr. Hrishikesh Pai, one of the best IVF doctors in Mohali.
When using the slow-freezing technique, lab embryologists immerse the embryos in a unique device that gradually cools them. The embryos are subsequently given cryoprotectants, and after they have been frozen, they are kept in liquid nitrogen at a temperature of -321 degrees Fahrenheit. It takes roughly two hours to complete the operation. Vitrification is a newer, more successful technique that places embryos in a solution containing a much higher concentration of cryoprotectants. Then, embryos are submerged in liquid nitrogen, instantaneously turning them into a substance resembling glass.
The embryo is preserved using this freezing method before ice crystals can form, enhancing the embryo’s chances of surviving and remaining viable following thawing. The laboratory staff at the Women and Infants Fertility Center uses vitrification exclusively for the cryopreservation of all new embryos.
The embryo stops all biological processes, including cell development and death. When necessary, embryos are gradually defrosted and submerged in liquids to flush out cryoprotectants and replenish cell water. Regardless of the technique, embryos that have been frozen are effectively frozen in time. Embryos that have been frozen can be kept in storage indefinitely. However, the longest an embryo may have been successfully used after being frozen and leading to a healthy pregnancy was 19 years, says Dr Hrishikesh Pai, one of the best IVF doctors in Mohali.
What are the Risks of freezing embryos?
According to research, IVF kids born later on are not harmed by the freezing and thawing of embryos. The success rates of IVF are unaffected by how long the embryo was kept in storage.
The difference in pregnancy rates between fresh and frozen embryos is minimal because of advances in science. Additionally, the stimulation process with frozen embryo transfer is gentler, with the woman’s hormone levels being closer to normal, which may help increase the likelihood of getting pregnant, says Dr. Hrishikesh Pai, one of the best IVF doctors in Nagpur.
Research shows no increase in the risk of birth defects among children born from frozen embryos compared with normal births. Any ice crystals formed during the slow freeze process may cause damage to an embryo while thawing. This is one of the reasons vitrification is the preferred cryopreservation technique.