Anybody who consider IVF treatment faces a lot of difficult decisions. Suddenly you need to find yourself in the vast new world of medicine. It’s not difficult to start to feel overwhelmed. It may seem as if you were discovering a whole new planet in the galaxy. And then at once, you need to know if frozen oocytes are better than fresh? A new question arises after the previous question. Is there any difference at all? How it affects your IVF cycle if it has any influence at all? And if so, does it mean that the success of your treatment depends on this decision? What are the advantages to choose frozen egg donation over fresh? Does it play any role in the process and enforces some other steps? Is it possible that by making this choice it will be easier for you as a patient or it has nothing to do with it at all? Is it related to the success rates? And so on, on and on…
To help you stop struggling and to provide you with all the facts from the reliable source we did the webinar covering the topic: Fresh or frozen oocytes for your IVF with donor eggs? Is fresh bread better than the frozen one?
This time our expert is Dr Hana Visnova
from IVF CUBE
All those complicated terms and medical matters are difficult to understand and what to say about execution. It may happen that diagnosis is uncertain, that recommendations are demanding and everybody repeats that the time, relaxation and patience are most desirable. And you don’t feel you have any time and patience. At all. Our webinars help you find the answers for all IVF questions you may have and you can ask these questions live during the live event.
Dr Visnova begins her presentation by speaking about the difficulties fertility specialists experienced with egg freezing.
As some of you may know, the human egg is one of the largest cells in the body – with a diameter of about 0.1 millimetre, it’s usually visible to the naked eye. Because of its size and of the water quantity inside the cell, preventing ice formation became a major issue. During the early days of fertility treatments, it was believed that because of the slow freeze method which was used at the time, only one in a hundred frozen eggs would result in a pregnancy.
In 2007, however, a new method was developed – vitrification, which drastically improved the survival rate of oocytes, as well as the pregnancy rate – five pregnancies can now be achieved from a hundred frozen cells, rather than just one. Sperm freezing, comparatively, is uncomplicated; the method has been known for about sixty years and from the earliest attempts has enjoyed high success rates. Because of the characteristic of human
sperm, it is much easier to cryopreserve when compared to egg cells. From the infertility clinics’ perspective, egg banking offers a major advantage – it makes the entire treatment process much simpler to plan, as the need to synchronize cycles between the donor and the recipient simply isn’t a factor. Additionally, the process allows more time for additional testing, if needed. In some countries, such as the United States, clinics are allowed to use donated eggs from affiliated fertility institutions, which significantly expands the available donor pool.
If we look at egg banking from the patient’s perspective, advantages can also be found; for instance, about 5% of fresh egg donation cycles are cancelled due to donor-side issues, such as hyperstimulation. Obviously, banked eggs bypass that issue entirely.
Additionally, it is much easier to find a donor of a matching phenotype when opting for a banked egg transfer – which cuts down on the waiting time. Another advantage is the complete lack of a down- regulation cycle, avoiding the possible side effects from the medications used in such cycles, making the treatment much more comfortable.
Because of the relaxed time constraints, treatments could be scheduled to align with the natural cycle – again, reducing the need for additional medication. This helps patients and clinics schedule treatment to respect job commitments and travel arrangements.
The big question, however, remains – does egg banking provide identical or comparable success rates to treatments using fresh egg donations? Dr Visnova’s clinic, IVF Cube, commissioned a study to help determine an answer. They were also interested in whether frozen oocytes resulted in similar numbers of good quality embryos when compared to fresh donor eggs, and whether the implantation and successful live birth rates are comparable.
Their analysis compared 266 fresh egg donation cycles to 63 cycles using frozen donor oocytes. The total pregnancy rate for fresh eggs was 68.05%, while that of the frozen oocytes was 42.86%. Of all the egg cells suitable for ICSI fertilisation per cycle, 100% of fresh eggs and 93% of frozen oocytes were suitable.
The fertilisation rates per cycle were 84.81% and 72.97% for fresh and frozen oocytes, respectively. Fresh eggs resulted in at least one high quality embryo in 96.24% of all cycles, with frozen ones trailing behind at 61.9%.
Dr Visnova sums the study up as such: the numbers indicate that higher numbers of frozen oocytes are required to ensure the generation of a good embryo at the blastocyst stage. Conversely, on average, almost two surplus high quality embryos are produced each cycle, which can be frozen for future use.
When it comes to results, we can see a marked statistical difference between using frozen and fresh donor eggs. On average, IVF Cube required only around 7 fresh eggs to achieve a successful pregnancy, while it needed twice that amount in frozen oocytes for the same result. Because the clinic used about 11 eggs per cycle during the study, some patients did not achieve a successful pregnancy during the first cycle.
Dr Visnova’s conclusions are then as such: while fresh donor cycles are time-consuming and require more management from both the patient and the clinic to arrange a workable schedule, fresh oocytes have a higher cumulative success rate and have a higher chance of producing surplus embryos which can then be used in future treatments. In her opinion, the freezing and banking of donor eggs is a waste of biological material; her clinic continues to recommend fresh donation cycles for patients.