There has been a lot of debate surrounding the successes of frozen vs fresh embryo transfers during the IVF process, as well as the benefits that surround these options.
Many fertility specialists and treatment providers indicate that frozen embryo transfers provide a higher success rate for pregnancy than using fresh embryos during assisted reproductive technology. However, success rates aren’t the only determining factor. Depending on your situation, going fresh over frozen for your embryo transfer may better suit your needs. There are numerous aspects to consider when selecting between fresh and frozen embryo transfers during your IVF journey.
Firstly let’s discuss the difference between frozen and fresh embryos:
When you are working with fresh eggs, the eggs are fertilized immediately with the sperm of the donor or the father. The embryos are then transferred to a surrogate or the mother. They may even be frozen for use at a later date. When it comes to frozen donor eggs, they are put into cryopreservation straight away, starlight after being retrieved – prior to the fertilization process. When they are going to be used, they are thawed out and then fertilized to create embryos. Around a decade ago, as many as 20% of all couples used frozen donor eggs. This figure has grown exponentially since technology is getting more and more advanced. However, the frozen egg survival rate is still not as high as fresh eggs.
Both Frozen and fresh embryo transfers begin with ovulation induction and monitoring. When the uterus is ready, the woman will undergo an egg retrieval in which the reproductive endocrinologist will fertilize your eggs with your partner’s or sperm donor’s sperm. Once the eggs and sperm have been retrieved and fertilized, a fresh embryo transfer will occur three to five days after the egg retrieval by transferring the fertilized embryo back into her uterus. On the other hand, a frozen embryo transfer can occur years after a woman’s egg retrieval and fertilization with sperm. During a (FET), your fertility doctor will implant a thawed embryo into the woman’s uterus for a hopeful conception.
Studies have shown that the chances of live birth resulting from a fresh egg donation IVF cycle were 9%-20% higher than from a frozen egg donation cycle. There are a lot of variables that go into that number, primarily the number of eggs available for use and possible damage to the eggs from freezing. During a fresh egg donation cycle, the intended parents get all the eggs retrieved, this can be between 15 and 20 and is hardly ever below 10. While not all eggs will fertilize properly if starting with 15 eggs, normally will result in 3-4 viable embryos to choose from and possibly some to freeze for later cycles.
Frozen eggs, on the other hand, come in batches of five to eight. While frozen eggs can be fertilized at almost the same rate as fresh, there still aren’t going to be as many embryos since the intended parents will likely be starting out with fewer eggs unless the donor is extremely fertile. This is a significant factor when making a decision, especially when you think about the physical, emotional, and financial costs of repeated IVF cycles. By the time they get to the realization that they need donor eggs, most people have gone through several IVF cycles already and don’t want to go through an indefinite number of cycles. Search carefully to find out the success rates in the clinics you are considering.
Which option ends up being best for your growing family will really come down to the things that are most important to you. If you value getting started quickly and having a variety of options at your disposal, frozen donor eggs may be the better choice. Not only can you make sure that you’re working on your own timeline, but you can ensure that you’re staying on budget throughout the process. Although, if your budget is flexible, or if you are hoping to have multiple children using the same egg donor, fresh donor eggs may be the way to go.
Ultimately, the decision to have a fresh or frozen egg cycle is an intricate and unique journey to your family building. It is important to reach out to your trusted fertility specialist if you have any concerns or questions, as well as having the correct guided support which is needed when entering and going along this journey.