Embryo cryopreservation

What is embryo cryopreservation?

Embryo cryopreservation gives patients the option of having excess embryos frozen, to be used in future cycles.

During IVF treatment, a maximum of three embryos can be transferred to the uterus in any one cycle. As modern methods of stimulation often result in more than three eggs being collected during a cycle, there may be excess embryos available following treatment. This freezing process is called cryopreservation.

What are the benefits of cryopreservation?

A frozen embryo can be used in a future cycle without having to undergo the preliminary drug treatment and surgery.

The procedure

Only embryos of suitable quality that are likely to survive the freeze-thaw process are selected for freezing. The chance of an embryo surviving a freeze and thaw is approximately 60 per cent. It is therefore recommended that no less than four embryos be frozen at one time.

Frozen embryos may be kept in storage for a maximum period of five years routinely. In some specific circumstances these may be stored for ten years or occasionally more.

For more information, and if you have any queries, speak to your consultant.

Legal issues

Consent forms from The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) will need to be signed so that the intended future use of embryos is recorded.

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