Our high IVF success rates are a testament to several strategies, including implementation of the most advanced technologies. Additionally, our team continually strives to maintain: a patient-centered approach, adherence to high standards of care, and attention to pregnancy outcomes. For these reasons we often integrate into our treatments: embryo freezing, embryo chromosome screening, and elective single embryo transfers
Please Note: Success rates reflect primarily frozen embryo transfers and are extracted from data available through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accurate and complete reporting of success rates is complicated. Clinics may have differences in patient selection, treatment approaches, and cycle reporting practices which may inflate or lower pregnancy rates relative to another clinic.
Frozen Embryo Transfers May be Preferred
At OC Fertility we often transfer frozen embryos rather than non-frozen (fresh) embryos for several evolving reasons. Historically, we avoided freezing embryos using older technologies such as slow-freezing) because of concerns over potential embryo harm from freezing and thawing procedures.
However, our success with modern cryopreservation (freezing) techniques, such as vitrification, has enabled OC Fertility to freeze embryos with very little risk of damage. In fact, recent data suggests potential advantages to freezing an embryo rather than transferring the embryo during a freshly stimulated IVF cycle.
The reasons for this are:
- Avoiding a transfer during a stimulated fresh IVF cycle allows the woman’s body time to recover from the hormone changes caused by the fertility drugs used to extract the eggs. These hormone changes alter the uterine environment, and embryos that are implanted immediately after an egg retrieval procedure may have reduced implantation rates.
- Increasingly, studies suggest that due to the hormonal environment following an egg retrieval procedure, pregnancies resulting from a fresh embryo transfer are associated with higher risks to the fetus and increased health risks to babies after they are born. These observed risks may relate to the IVF stimulation altering placental development during the implantation phase, which can influence fetal growth throughout pregnancy. Consequently, freezing embryos and delaying the transfer until the woman has recovered may be associated with, not only higher pregnancy success rates, but healthier offspring.
- By separating the timing of egg stimulation from the timing of an embryo transfer, we don’t compromise clinical decisions that aim to balance ovarian responsiveness with endometrial receptivity. Instead, we can optimize the egg retrieval outcome independent of preparing the uterus for an embryo transfer during that same cycle. In fact, in this context, we can start treatment at any point in the menstrual cycle. This strategy may be particularly useful for patients who have a narrow window of time to do treatment (cancer patients, traveling patients, or poor responders).
- Freezing embryos allows time to accurately perform genetic testing, such as pre-implantation comprehensive chromosome screening (PGS/CCS) and testing for genetic diseases (PGD). This helps weed out embryos that may not be viable or result in a healthy pregnancy. Though testing may occur in a shorter amount of time (up to 24 hours) to enable an embryo transfer within a stimulated cycle, it is often less accurate when done in this way. It also limits the option of allowing those embryos that need an extra day or two to grow (day-6 or beyond) to be included in the group of biopsied embryos. This may reduce the opportunity of finding a healthy embryo from each egg retrieval. Consequently, the opportunity to test all potential embryos from a specific egg retrieval improves efficiency and may reduce the number of treatments needed; as well as shorten the interval to a successful pregnancy. For women with poor ovarian reserve (older than 35 years, low egg count) this time may be essential.
Patients may bank (freeze) their embryos earlier in life when they are younger and use them later in life to increase their chances of a successful pregnancy. This gives patients a chance to complete their family-size goals even if they start having children later in life. The banked embryos are, literally, frozen in time to be used later in a woman’s life; and luckily the age of a woman’s womb (uterus) has little impact on pregnancy rates.
Patients often ask if IVF treatments lead to complications or problems with the children born from these techniques. Compared to children born from spontaneous pregnancies and controlling for age, most babies are healthy and if there are differences they are small. Studies support that outcome variations in IVF births relate mostly to the history of the patients seeking treatment, rather than being a direct consequence of ART treatments – such as IVF lab procedures.
Alternatively, data shows that risks from a multiple gestation pregnancy are higher than from a singleton pregnancy – especially for those with more than twins. This factor we have almost complete control over by limiting the number of embryos replaced (transferred) into the womb
Consequently, the most significant way to ensure the health of children born through IVF is to limit the chances of a multiple gestation pregnancy. Such pregnancies increase the mother’s pregnancy risk due to hypertension or diabetes, prenatal complications such as preterm birth or growth restriction, and an infant’s chances for disabilities such as breathing problems or cerebral palsy).
At OC Fertility our goal is to enhance your odds of not just getting pregnant, but having a successful pregnancy, low-risk birth, and healthy baby to take home. Consequently, we encourage patients to consider elective single-embryo transfers when medically indicated, as opposed to the transfer of multiple embryos.
Such an approach is particularly relevant to patients who do embryo chromosome screening (PGS/CCS), which selects the most viable embryos for transfer. This recommendation protects the health of both mother and baby.
In fact, we average 33% fewer multiple embryo transfers compared to the national average, without compromising our high IVF pregnancy success rates.
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