Fresh Embryos as Good as Frozen Ones for In Vitro Fertilization

Fresh Embryos as Good as Frozen Ones for In Vitro Fertilization

The two studies involved almost 3,000 women undergoing IVF who were randomly assigned to receive either frozen or fresh embryos.

Frozen-embryo transfer resulted in significantly lower rates of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome compared to fresh-embryo transfer.

Previous trials have suggested that using only frozen embryos might improve pregnancy rates in women with polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS, a hormonal disorder that affects about 10 percent of women. Frozen-embryo transfer has shown promise as a superior method of IVF compared to fresh-embryo transfer, demonstrating higher live-birth rates and lower rates of pregnancy loss in small-scale observational studies.

In a Vietnamese study, rates of live births after the first transfer were comparable between groups: 33.8% with frozen embryos and 31.5% with fresh embryos, according to Lan N. Vuong, MD, PhD, of the University of Medicine and Pharmacy at Ho Chi Minh City, and colleagues.

"It's good that [clinicians] will be able to advise patients that frozen-embryo transfer is as good as fresh, because historically frozen has not been as good".

Researchers studied 800 women who had infertility not related to polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).

There is a recent trend in the in vitro fertilization (IVF) community to freeze all of a prospective mother's embryos after an IVF cycle, then do an elective frozen embryo transfer.

It was her frozen embryos that gifted her two daughters, Melissa, now 20 years old, and Ashley, 17.

But the research was the first of its kind to study fresh versus frozen-embryo transfers in such a large number of non-PCOS patients.

Together, these factors prompted many clinics to advocate freezing of all embryos.

"Our key finding is that freezing embryos for IVF is not harming a couple's chances of having a baby". But some experts point out that the findings could also justify use of fresh embryos as well.

The second benefit (which is still being debated in the scientific community) is that having a more "normal" estrogen level at the time of embryo transfer may result in a healthier pregnancy.

"We shouldn't be freezing embryos across the board [for all IVF cycles] if it makes no difference", says Dr. Christos Coutifaris, president of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine and chief of reproductive endocrinology at University of Pennsylvania, who was also not involved in the study.

"This new study shows that infertile women not suffering from PCOS have equivalent live IVF birth rates from frozen embryos, which is important news for infertile women worldwide", said the scientist. "After the first fresh embryo transfer, it will be possible to freeze the remaining embryos and transfer them one by one, which is safe and effective", he said. "We have done a cost-effectiveness analysis of the two treatments and found that freezing embryos and subsequent transfer is not cost-effective over fresh transfer".

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