What is Cryopreservation and How Has It Been Used to Help Those Struggling With Infertility?
Cryopreservation preserves sperm, eggs and/or embryos by subjecting them to extremely low temperatures. This process is often referred to as freezing. Embryos are frozen in order to preserve life when the In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) process creates more embryos than can immediately be transferred to the womb or uterus. Cryopreservation can also be used to help an individual preserve their fertility, for instance, before undergoing chemotherapy.
To learn more about cryopreservation and how it is used with in vitro fertilization, view this CBS News "60 Minutes" segment.
Have Any Children Been Born Following Cryopreservation?
The world's first "frozen embryo" baby was born in Australia in 1984. To learn more about the birth of this baby, read this story from the New York Times .
In June, 1986 the first "frozen embryo" baby was born in the United States. Click here to read more about this birth.
How Long Can Cryopreserved Embryos Be Stored And What About Viability?
In the Spring of 2011, it was reported in the medical journal, Fertility and Sterility, that a healthy baby boy had been born from frozen embryos stored in cryopreservation for almost 20 years (19 years and 7 months) before they were transferred to his mother's womb. Read more ....
How Many Cryopreserved Embryos Are There In The United States Today?
The last study conducted in 2003 noted that at that point in time there were over 400,000 cryopreserved embryos being stored in medical clinics across the United States. Currently, there are approximately 600,000 embryos in cryopreservation.
What is the birth success rate for embryos that have been cryopreserved before transfer?
The Society for Reproductive Technology (SART) complies data from clinics across the United States. Live birth success rates following cryppreservation range from 30 to 39% per transfer cycle, for embryos that were created by a women whose age was 40 years or younger at the time of embryo creation. Click here to review SART's published statistics.
It is important to compare this success rate with the fact that non-medically assisted, fertile couples, only have a 20% chance of pregnancy success in any given cycle.
What options are available for cryopreserved embryos that will not be used by the couple that created them?
Along the journey to parenthood, many couples have completed the medical treatment of in vitro fertilization. This process often produces an excess of embryos (fertilized eggs) that are frozen and stored for the couple's later use. Most couples fully anticipate that they will use every created embryo to build their family. However, when the blessing of parenthood is fulfilled before all their embryos are used, couples face the difficult dilemma of what to do with the embryos they will no longer be able to use. There are currently four options for these couples:
Embryo donation provides a gift of life for the receiving couple and is a loving decision filled with hopeful promise for the embryo.
How Many Children Have Been Born Through Cryopreserved Embryos that were Donated to other Couples?
Over 3,000 children have been born through embryo donation. Conservative estimates show that total births from embryo donation are increasing by 25% each year.*
*Source: Embryo Adoption Awareness