Why Consider Embryo Banking?
Here is an example of a common family building challenge:
A woman intends to become pregnant or actually becomes pregnant at age 39 or older, the 9-month pregnancy, breast feeding for about 6 additional months and resuming of menstrual cycles for about 1 to 3 months later can delay having another child for at least a year and a half. Trying to have her next child at earliest, age 41 years and beyond poses even greater challenges to success.
Embryo banking offers a potential solution for women of advanced reproductive age and those with diminished ovarian reserve who wish to minimize the relentless effect of the biological clock.
The process involves undergoing several In-vitro fertilization (IVF) procedures in relatively quick succession, and then freezing all viable embryos for future dispensation, rather than having them transferred to the uterus immediately. This is referred to as embryo banking. Accumulating embryos in the “Bank” can virtually halt the effects of the “biological clock” on fertility. Banking embryos allows for subsequent elective thawing of one or two frozen embryos at a time in future frozen embryo transfer (FET) cycles. This process would avert the risk of progressive declining egg/embryo “competency” over time.
MRM has been at the cutting edge of technology improvements over the last decade allowing embryo banking to become a viable family building option:
- Improvement in vitrification ultra-rapid freezing technology.
- Improved precision reliably identifying chromosomally normal (“competent”) embryos for selective banking with preimplantation genetic screening (PGS) by next-generation 24-chromosome analysis.
- Provides greater confidence that any single embryo selected for thaw and transfer can result in the birth of a healthy child.
- This confidence reduces the motivation to transfer more than one embryo at any effort to become pregnant. Single embryo transfer reduces the risk of multiple fetal pregnancy and the related risks to mother and fetuses of which, the root risk is preterm delivery of a premature infant.
In fact, in IVF centers of excellence such as MRM, the frozen embryo transfer (FET) process using vitrified/thawed embryos now yields as good and in some situations, a better IVF success rate compared to fresh embryos transferred!
For women whose ovaries tend to over-respond to fertility medications with an excessive number of eggs, freezing all embryos and allowing her ovaries to calm down for a month after egg collection, followed by an FET cycle, avoids the risk of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome.
PGS with 24 chromosome analysis is NOT an indispensable part of embryo banking. The process can be done without it.
But, given the inevitability of advanced female and male parent age-related increase in the incidence of chromosomal abnormalities in the egg/embryo, it would be impossible for patients to know whether they have stored “competent” embryos and which ones to transfer to the uterus for the best chance of success when the time comes.
The storage of frozen embryos may be an option for women with a committed male partner who wish to have biological children in the future. Women who need cancer treatment may choose this option before beginning cancer treatment.
Please make an appointment with one of MRM’s fertility expert physicians to discuss your specific needs and hopes for family building and find out if embryo banking is right for you.