Too Bad People Don’t Like Freezing Eggs For IVF, It Ups The Chances Of Success

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freezing your eggsWhile IVF is becoming more widely accepted and practiced all the time, there’s still one part of the assisted reproductive process that can cause a little controversy. The idea of freezing eggs, often done when doctors remove multiple eggs at the same time, makes many people with more conservative outlooks uncomfortable. Those who believe in Personhood would qualify these fertilized eggs as human beings who should be granted the full rights of any citizen. There are even movements to adopt frozen embryos that are in danger of being stuck in a freezer indefinitely. So it only makes the situation more complicated when fertility specialists suggest that freezing eggs might be an important part of the IVF process. In fact, some believe using frozen embryos should be standard operating procedure.

There is growing evidence that freezing eggs actually increases the chances of success using in vitro fertilization. The Wall Street Journal reported:

 “A recent scientific review of three small randomized and controlled studies found that 50% of women got pregnant after receiving in vitro fertilization, or IVF, treatment using a recently frozen embryo. By contrast, women receiving fresh embryos had a 38% pregnancy rate. The review is slated for publication in Fertility and Sterility, the journal of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.”

For couples that have been trying to get pregnant for years, every percentage point counts when it comes to trying to conceive. And the minute I heard those numbers, I have to admit that the trend makes sense.

Before doctors go in to harvest eggs for fertilization, women takes series of hormones to increase the number of eggs that can be used. All those hormones can have lots of different effects on a woman’ reproductive system. Just like any other change in woman’s hormones, each female has an individual reaction, but most of us feel some side effect or another. Personally, hormones don’t really mess with my stomach, but they do send my emotions on a wonderfully unpredictable roller-coaster. It’s super fun.

It makes sense that after a woman’s body is flooded with hormones, she might want to wait a month before doing the implantation. At first, doctors always wanted to try right away, mostly because their patients were impatient to start their family. But if there is proof that waiting one more month will up the chances of success, I think many couples will be okay freezing eggs for one month and then moving on to the next stop in the process.

Another possible reason for the higher success rates with frozen embryos, the process of freezing might weed out the stronger chances. Freezing and thawing a fertilized egg would be kind of like a stress test. Only the healthiest and  most viable embryos would make it through to be implanted. That line of thinking could definitely worry those who think of the embryos as living beings though. The idea of testing their ability to survive could be seen as cruel.

It seems like an unlikely twist of fate in the debate, that one of the parts that brings IVF so much criticism might be one of the parts that is most necessary. Of course, there are some like the Catholic Church who will simply never support the process at all. Clearly the business of making a baby is always going to be one with lots of debate.

While freezing all embryos before implantation might make the entire IVF process a little more controversial to some, I don’t think it will change much for the millions of couples who conceive using the practice. For them, it’s never really been about the process anyway. They’re only focused on the end result.

(Photo: TongChuwit/Shutterstock)