One of the dreaded complications of IVF used to be Ovarian Hyperstimulation.
Why I am talking in the past tense is because we don’t really see this complication in modern day IVF practice .
To make good embryos in the lab, Fertility Specialists have to administer many gonadotrophin injections to women undergoing IVF so that more eggs can be harvested. Sometimes this can lead to high levels of hormones in the blood and set up a cascade of dangerous complications, if the woman becomes pregnant in the same month and starts producing the hcg hormone which is the pregnancy hormone.
The vitrification procedure was the most revolutionary and pathbreaking discovery of the infertility science which could prevent this complication.Vitrification means very rapid cooling to temperatures as low as minus 200 degrees in a few seconds so that even ice formation inside the cells is prevented and the the tissue gets vitrified.The embryologists could now freeze safely embryos, eggs and sperms for future use with the help of this technique.
The IVF treatment has now become segmented in two parts – in the first part, the best embryos are made in the laboratory and are then frozen and stored in Liquid nitrogen cylinders with proper labelling and in the second part,the woman undergoes an embryo transfer with the frozen embryos which are thawed on the day of transfer. The effects of the raised hormones are thus nullified in the month of the embryo transfer.This has also improved the success rates of the IVF technique.
Thanks to these medical innovations, there have been sibling IVF babies who had been made in the laboratory on a particular day but came to life years apart as they got transferred in their mother’s uterus on different days. So though their birthdays could be a few years apart , but they were actually twins formed on the same day in the IVF Lab !
The recent studies and research conducted on these frozen babies has revealed that they weighed slightly heavier than the ones who were transferred fresh from the lab. There were no abnormalities when they were compared to the babies born from fresh transfers .
This technique has proved to be a boon to all those women who want to postpone their pregnancy as their careers take priorities. They can freeze their eggs or their embryos while they are young and achieve motherhood with frozen transfers later in life, so that they can overcome the side effects of ageing on their fertility.
Young women who have to undergo chemotherapy or radiotherapy to treat cancers can also freeze their eggs or embryos and prevent the infertility that could come due to the hazardous effects of the chemotherapeutic drugs.