Best Tips for Embryo Freezing
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If you’ve just talked to your IVF doctor and are thinking about freezing your embryos, then that’s awesome because I’m your guy and this is the perfect video for you.
In this video, you’re going to learn everything you need to know about freezing your embryos, and I’m going to tell you how to get access to the IVF Code, my go-to resource for anyone considering IVF. So stay tuned.
In case you’re new to fertility TV. I’m Dr Marc Sklar, the fertility expert. I work with couples from all over the world, helping them get pregnant naturally. If you’re trying to get pregnant, then subscribe, and hit the bell so that I can help you too.
Okay, so now let’s get into all the good stuff as it comes to embryo freezing, and what does it all mean? And what’s all the details around it? Well first and foremost, freezing embryos comes with a lot of information. So just so you know, if you see me looking down, I’m just looking at my computer with my notes, so that I make sure I don’t miss any little thing that I want to share with all of you.
So vitrification, say it out loud, vitrification, that is a fancy term for embryo freezing. So one of the things that we often forget when we’re considering IVF, is that the embryology lab, and the technology in the lab, is just as important as the doctor you’re choosing, the medication they’re prescribing and the protocol they’re giving you. And all of these things go hand in hand and they support one another.
So when it comes to egg freezing, the lab, or the success of egg freezing I should say, vitrification and the technology used in the lab is extremely important to the success of the whole process. Egg vitrification is kind of a big deal because one of the advances it allows us to do what we’re doing now is vitrification. So it’s not something to take lightly. It didn’t used to be done effectively and efficiently. And so previously when patients would ask me about freezing their eggs, it was always an iffy thing like, “Well, we’ll freeze what we have to, but let’s do a fresh transfer, where we can take embryos that were created and never frozen and transfer them back in.”
Now we have this wonderful technology and it’s being relatively perfected, that it makes more sense to actually freeze the embryos than it did before. And so that’s why it’s such an important piece, and that the development of that technology has really made a big difference in the world of IVF. So an important background when we’re talking about freezing embryos is that cryopreservation. The freezing process requires that the egg cells, when they’re being frozen or the embryo cells when they’re being frozen, reach and remain at negative 196 degrees Celsius, that’s about negative 320 degrees Fahrenheit according to my notes. And that’s the temperature that all biological processes inside the cell cease, and they can be safely stored.
Egg vitrification is a flash freezing method or process, versus what was done before, which was really slow. They would slowly freeze the embryos or eggs, and that was okay, but it led to problems. And when you would thaw them, it would cause more complications. They all wouldn’t survive. So now with this new technology, we have an instant, or near instant, freezing. It’s like flash freezing process, that doesn’t damage the cells, and leaves a healthy embryo or egg, depending on which one you’re doing, to be frozen and stored to be used at some future time.
One study actually found that vitrified eggs have an over 83% success rate of being frozen and thawed, which is great because that didn’t used to be the case. And currently the success rate of a frozen embryo transfer, right, taking embryos that were frozen and transferring them into a uterus, and having successful implantation, is much higher since the creation and refinement of vitrification and embryo freezing.
So when should you decide to do freezing? Well today most clinics in the United States, I can’t say in the world, but in the United States, actually do prefer to freeze embryos and then transfer at some future cycle or time, instead of fresh embryo transfers. And it helps on many levels, but most importantly it helps all women, because you’re allowed to have some time to recover from the medication that you were given to stimulate the development of more eggs. And so it allows your body to create some space and distance between the first half of the IVF process, if you will, which is creating and gathering and retrieving the eggs. And the second or the last phase of transferring embryos. It also allows you to make some decisions if you decide to do any genetic testing, you are able to do that at that time in between.
And as I discussed with a patient earlier today, it also allows you to do any additional procedures in between, that have to do with getting the endometrium healthy, getting the lining healthy. So it does create a healthy space in between that time that is more appropriate for recovery and additional procedures. So there’s lots of benefits to it. And the best one is that we have seen an increase in success rates as well, as a result of embryo freezing process.
But as we’re talking about eggs and embryos, and as I keep mixing those things up, I do think this is a good time to discuss the difference between those things. The two, freezing eggs versus freezing embryos, and when one is more important or makes sense than another.
So egg freezing or freezing eggs, instead of embryos, should really be considered, one, if you’ve been diagnosed with cancer and need to preserve your eggs for post chemotherapy and radiation treatment, to be able to use those in the future so they weren’t influenced and affected by the chemotherapy and radiation. This is a big deal, and it is something that is done often as a result of a cancer diagnosis. It’s something that is considered in the process to preserve fertility in the future. Now, some women might not have that option, because depending on the severity and degree of cancer, but if we have that option, this is definitely a viable one.
Number two, if you’ve got some severe endometriosis, that may be a reason, I don’t want to say it is, but it may be a reason, because each situation is unique and different in its own right. And then age, if you’re getting older and you don’t have a partner, and you’re trying to prepare for the future, but you don’t want to keep waiting for a partner, this might also be a time to freeze your eggs. You might also consider moving forward with IVF on your own with a donor sperm. There’s definitely different options there when you’re in that situation.
I do want to caution everybody that freezing your eggs is not as ideal as freezing embryos. And the success rate of freezing and thawing, and having healthy embryos afterwards, is much higher if you’ve actually frozen an embryo, than frozen eggs. There is a much higher likelihood that you will lose eggs in the following process, and they won’t make it. And if they do make it, there’s a potential that they’re not as likely to fertilize once you do have sperm to fertilize there, to grow into healthy embryos.
And then the other thing that you have to consider is, once you’ve done that, let’s say you have an egg, you’ve thawed it, you’ve fertilized it, it’s survived, you’ve fertilized it. You might not even decide to transfer that back into the uterus, so you might have to refreeze that egg, which is now an embryo. And so these are all things that need to be considered in that process, because now you’re doing the freezing, the thawing, the freezing, and the thawing multiple times.
So some of you might not have choices, but these are things to consider. And if you are choosing to freeze your eggs, then we do want to have as many eggs frozen as possible to work with in the future. So those are some of my tips.
So step one, after you’ve made the choice to freeze, is you have to assess your ovarian reserve. How do we assess our ovarian reserve? Well, one, is to do testing. The best way, and the most accurate way to test your ovarian reserve is through a test called anti-Mullerian hormone, often referred to in short as AMH. You know, I’ve got questions about it’s being the most accurate to test ovarian reserve, but it is the most accurate thing we have today to test ovarian reserve. And so this is definitely where we start with testing.
Additionally, you can do what’s called an antral follicle count, which is to check how many follicles or eggs your ovaries are producing, and that would be done on ultrasound at the fertility clinic. So that is also an accurate way to test that. You do have to take into account that this can fluctuate and change, from cycle to cycle. So that’s just something to consider.
And lastly is age. Age is an important piece and factor to help us determine your ovarian reserve, and how to move forward with the decision to freeze eggs or embryos, and how to move forward with IVF. So step two is, which might be actually part of step one if you’ve got to do all this testing and so forth, is to do all of this at an IVF clinic or a fertility clinic. And it’s important to recognize that for those of you who are interested in freezing eggs, actually it’s true for embryos as well, but it’s a little bit different in some clinics might have packages that allow you to get a minimum number of eggs to freeze.
Other clinics might not have those packages. And if you’re moving forward with embryo freezing, that you’re going to retrieve eggs, fertilize them, create embryos, freeze them and then transfer them. There might also be packages in some of these fertility clinics that includes some sort of guarantee. So do inquire about those things, ask about that. It may be helpful for all of you.
So I do want to point out that I am not an IVF doctor, but I am a natural fertility expert, and I work with my patients often in coordination with their local IVF clinics, to support them through the process, and yield the best results possible. And hopefully see lots of big fat positives that we’re looking for after the whole process is done and we’re done with IVF. So that’s really what I do with them to support you. But I’ve got to know everything that happens at an IVF clinic to help support you and all my patients well, and so that’s why I know all this information.
Because I’m a natural fertility expert, one of my most important things that I coach patients on, is preparing for IVF, not just jumping in without any preparation. I often equate this to a marathon. You wouldn’t just sign up for a marathon and the next day just jump in and start running for a marathon, or at least I wouldn’t. I would prepare and I hope you would too. And if that’s the case, one of the most important things you can do is prepare for your upcoming IVF cycle.
And I do recommend doing that by giving yourself three months to start to prepare your body to do that. And so to help you do that, I have created this handy dandy IVF Code. It’s a download for all of you that gives you resources, a checklist, and what you need to do to prepare your body to get ready for IVF, so that you can have a successful IVF cycle, and hopefully yield that big fat positive that we’re all looking for.
So if you want this tip right here, or this download, then I’ve got it for you. You can click on the link in the description below, or you can just get it right here. And for those of you who are on a mobile device, click that arrow and that will take you to the description, and that link is right there as well. But you’ve got it right here if you want.
So if you haven’t had your AMH tested, and you want to find out what your ovarian reserve looks like, you can do this from the comfort of your own home, with a company that I love to recommend called LetsGetChecked right here. They will send you the kit straight to your house. You do it at home, send it right back, and within two to five days you will have the results in an online portal, just for you to see and share with whoever you like.
So they send you this handy kit. I just dropped some things. It comes with all the instructions you need right here. It comes with, I’ll show it to you right here, comes with the little vile to collect your blood, a little card, tells you how to register and do everything, and you collect the blood at home, which is really easy with a little finger prick, and you send it back in this handy little packaging right here. So it’s easy as can be. You can find out what your ovarian reserve is from the comfort of your own home. Get the results at home as well, and share it with whoever you like, and you can get that information privately and securely. So I do love this method, I do think it’s easy because most of us, either one, don’t have those results, and think it’s too hard to get it.
So this company makes it very, very easy for you to get the results that you really need, to control your fertility and make the necessary decisions, with regards to your fertility. So if you want that resource, it’s right there for you, you can get that link right here, or in description below.
Oh, and one more thing that I forgot to share with all of you. I gave LetsGetChecked a phone call, because I wanted them to see if I could get all of you a discount. And I did. They were so nice to do that. So you all get a discount just by using the code, DRMARC20 that’s D-R-M-A-R-C 20 to get the discount on any of the tests that you use from them. So hopefully that’s helpful for all of you to get started on figuring out your own hormones, and your own ovarian reserve.
Did you like this video? Then give me a thumbs up and like this video, and make sure you’re subscribed to my channel by hitting the bell, so that you get all the latest tips and recommendations, to help you get pregnant naturally. So thanks for watching until the next video, be fertile, and if you want some more resources on how to improve and prepare for IVF, we’ve got all those videos right here for you as well.