Frozen Embryos Aren't Always Necessary for IVF, New Studies Show

Frozen Embryos Aren't Always Necessary for IVF, New Studies Show

Women with infertility unrelated to a common hormonal disorder may have more options when they try in-vitro fertilization, two large new studies show. Prior studies of women with PCOS have suggested that frozen embryo transfer is more successful.

"Among infertile women without the polycystic ovary syndrome who were undergoing IVF, the transfer of frozen embryos did not result in significantly higher rates of ongoing pregnancy or live birth than the transfer of fresh embryos", one of the studies concluded.

Whereas in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), freezing and thawing embryos before implantation offers a better chance of pregnancy and birth, in women without this condition thawed embryos and are no better or worse than fresh embryos, researchers in China and Vietnam have found.

"This is one of the reasons why our research is important for fertility clinicians and researchers, and of course couples who are hoping to have a child", said Lan N. Vuong from the University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Vietnam.

Vuong's work, conducted in collaboration with Professor Ben Mol from the University of Adelaide in Australia, was published The New England Journal of Medicine.

For their study, Chen and colleagues enrolled women at 20 clinical sites across China between March 2015 and November 2015.

"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. All women had regular menses and were undergoing their first cycle of IVF or intracytoplasmic sperm injection because of tubal factors, male factors, or both.

Freezing embryos also allows couples to take advantage of genetic testing, which can pick up potentially lethal genetic diseases and guide doctors in deciding which embryos to implant.

Rates of live birth after the first embryo transfer were 34% in the frozen embryo group, and 32% in the fresh embryo group.

Li Peng Monroe, top left, and her daughters, Melissa, 20, right, and Ashley, 17, front, were conceived using frozen embryos.

No differences were observed in live-birth rate, rates of implantation, clinical pregnancy, overall pregnancy loss, or ongoing pregnancy incidents between ovulatory women with infertility who received frozen-embryo or fresh-embryo transfers.

"Further research will be needed to compare pregnancy outcomes and live birth rates from other embryo freezing techniques", he said.

Unlike the study by Chen and colleagues, Vuong and colleagues didn't find a lower rate of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome in the frozen-embryo group, but they noted that "the rate of this complication was very low in our trial". They also implanted, on average, two at a time.

The study by Chen et al was supported by grants from the National Key Research and Development Program of China, the Major Program of the National Natural Science Foundation of China, and the State Key Program of the National Natural Science Foundation of China.

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