Marta Jansa Perez, Director of Embryology at BPAS, said:
“These results should be interpreted with caution as this is a retrospective study in a single fertility centre over a period of 7 years. During this period and even more so recently embryo vitrification technology has improved significantly and it’s now widely accepted that vitrification at the blastocyst stage gives similar chances of success as fresh embryo transfers. There is no evidence to suggest that the potential of embryos vitrified at the blastocyst stage deteriorates over time. Embryo vitrification at the cleavage stage (90% of the embryos in this study) is invariably linked to poorer outcomes due to the vitrification technique itself but also due to the fact that the embryos have not been further selected by culturing them to the blastocyst stage.
"It is worth noting that in this study the groups of patients with longer storage periods had a significantly lower number of eggs collected and a subsequently lower number of embryos vitrified which implies that they had a lower probability of success to start with. Therefore the results for these groups could be unrelated to the period in which the embryos were in storage
“The use of vitrification technology has been transformative in fertility treatment, reducing the risk of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), allowing patients to have further safer attempts at fertility treatment and decreasing multiple pregnancy rates, which constitute the highest risk of fertility treatment for both women and babies. It also allows patients with fertility impacting conditions like cancer to preserve their fertility safely. The technology and techniques are improving all the time and it’s a hugely exciting area of fertility care. Today’s study is a very interesting piece of research, but patients with frozen embryos in storage should be reassured that it is far from conclusive."
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The study, published in Human Reproduction, is available here: https://doi.org/10.1093/humrep/deaa136
bpas is a charity which sees almost 100,000 women a year for reproductive healthcare services including pregnancy counselling, abortion care, miscarriage management and contraception, at clinics across the UK. It supports and advocates for reproductive choice. BPAS also runs the Centre for Reproductive Research and Communication, which seeks to develop and deliver a research agenda that furthers women’s access to evidence-based reproductive healthcare, driven by an understanding of women’s perspectives and needs. You can find out more here: https://www.bpas.org/get-involved/centre-for-reproductive-research-communication/