Freezing Eggs vs. Freezing Embryos After IVF
IVF has been hailed as one of the greatest scientific and medical developments in modern history. In fact more than 2 million children worldwide have been born through IVF since the first success in 1978.
An important element of IVF is the harvesting of multiple eggs during the treatment cycle in order to select the most robust, chromosomally normal embryos for uterine transfer. A secondary effect of multiple egg harvest is the formation of more embryos than the patient is willing to transfer. This usually means that one or two embryos are placed in the uterus and the unused embryos are cryopreserved (frozen).
Once frozen, embryos can remain in suspended animation indefinitely; discarded or donated to another couple. However, in some cases, the patients may feel conflicted about having to discard the unused embryos. This is often a difficult decision especially if the first attempt was successful and the patient has completed her family building.
Fortunately, instead of freezing unused embryos, egg freezing can be a viable alternative after IVF. In this case a limited number of eggs are inseminated after the harvest and the remaining eggs are frozen without inseminating them with sperm. This gives the woman a choice in the future if she wishes to discard her surplus frozen eggs instead of embryos. This can be a more comforting choice since the egg is not considered a potential life.