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What is vitrification?

Vitrification is a process that transforms eggs, embryos and sperms into a glassy vitrified state to be stored for future use. It is a fast-freezing process in which the glassy state retains the normal molecular and ionic distribution of the liquid state. Since it avoids intracellular extracellular ice formation, vitrification is safer to freeze eggs, embryos, and sperms.

How is Embryo Vitrification performed?

The process of embryo vitrification utilizes the following steps-

  • The embryologists use a low concentration of cryoprotectant or a special anti-freeze substance for bathing the embryos. The solution also contains sucrose that draws water out of the reproductive materials.
  • Later, the embryos are transferred to a highly concentrated solution for less than a minute. It freezes the materials instantly and prevents the formation of ice crystals.

Once the embryos are vitrified, they can last forever. When a couple wants to conceive, the vitrification process is reversed. The glassy vitrified embryos are allowed to warm back to room temperature for rehydration. Since the embryos are not technically frozen, warming them for a short time and placing them back in the incubator makes them available for helping women attain pregnancy.

What is the success rate of vitrification?

Research suggests that the success rate of the IVF cycle is more when frozen embryos are used as compared to fresh embryos.
When a fresh embryo is transferred during IVF, the hormones taken by the women to stimulate egg production are still in the body. However, when a frozen embryo is transferred, the female body gets the time to return to the normal hormonal level. It could be one possible reason why frozen embryo transfer has a higher success rate.

What are the downsides of embryo vitrification?

Research suggests that the success rate of the IVF cycle is more when frozen embryos are used as compared to fresh embryos.

  • It is not sure that every embryo will survive the freezing process.
  • It is not necessary that every embryo will be healthy enough to transfer.
Embryo Vitrification