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EDITORIAL
Year : 2018  |  Volume : 5  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 2-3

Freeze all for all − Proceed with caution


Aberdeen Fertility Centre, Aberdeen Maternity Hospital, Aberdeen, UK

Date of Web Publication17-Jan-2019

Correspondence Address:
Abha Maheshwari
Aberdeen Fertility Centre, Aberdeen Maternity Hospital, Aberdeen
UK
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/fsr.fsr_33_18

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How to cite this article:
Maheshwari A. Freeze all for all − Proceed with caution. Fertil Sci Res 2018;5:2-3

How to cite this URL:
Maheshwari A. Freeze all for all − Proceed with caution. Fertil Sci Res [serial online] 2018 [cited 2019 Jun 26];5:2-3. Available from: http://www.fertilityscienceresearch.org/text.asp?2018/5/1/2/250335



Forty years ago, first in–vitro fertilisation (IVF) baby was born. Since then there have been several advances, including ability to freeze and use spare embryos. This has not only facilitated use of single-embryo transfer without compromising cumulative live birth rate but also have allowed ovarian hyperstimulation rates to plummet. First baby, using frozen embryos, was born in 1982. Since then use of frozen embryos have been on increase, with exponential increase in last few years and widespread use of vitrification. This is to the extent that we are talking about Freeze All for All and no fresh embryo transfer for anyone.

Current well-accepted list of indications for freezing all embryos in preference to fresh embryo transfer are risk of ovarian hyperstimulation, fertility preservation, thin endometrium and preimplantation genetic testing. Other indications that freezing of embryos is practiced are high progesterone (though there is uncertainty about cut-off level), batching of embryos (in poor responders), a tiny polyp or fluid in endometrium and recurrent implantation failure (which include even one unsuccessful embryo transfer). There are some clinics that are electively freezing all to improve the live birth rate.

The list of indications for freezing all embryos is growing constantly. Even for the definite indication such as risk of ovarian hyperstimulation, the threshold for freezing all embryos is constantly being lowered. Hence from poor to hyperresponders, there could be every indication for freeze all!

Is this the right thing to do? One could argue that in an era when there are claims that freezing thaw success rates are approaching 100%, what is the harm in freezing all embryos followed by frozen embryo transfer?

As the proportion of frozen embryo transfers are increasing, data on obstetric and perinatal outcomes are being revealed. Singleton pregnancies with frozen embryo transfers are associated with lesser risk of low birth weight, small for gestational age babies and preterm deliveries when compared to fresh embryo transfer. At the same time, pregnancies following frozen embryo transfer are associated with higher risk of large for gestational age babies. There are some reports suggesting there are higher risks of pre-eclampsia in pregnancies as a result of frozen embryo transfer.[2] Another emerging risk is increased risk of neonatal death.[1] Although the effect on birth weight and preterm delivery can be explained due to embryo implantation on hyperestrogenised endometrium, the explanation for pre-eclampsia is not clear. In addition, there are costs not only to clinics of extra storage, freezing and thawing but to patients of extra visits by freezing all embryos. Moreover, data so far do not suggest increased pregnancy rates in predicted normal responders by freezing all embryos.[3],[4]

Hence, jury is still out whether we should freeze all embryos in all or continue to do what we do, that is fresh embryo transfer and freeze only the spare embryos. Therefore, we need more data.

With greater collaboration happening across the world, there is an opportunity to answer this question rather than doing what happens for most interventions in reproductive medicine − practice gets changed prematurely before evidence is available!

We should make every attempt to get the evidence right way before changing practice. Until then, we should do freeze all only when there are definite indications and with caution.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
  References Top

1.
Chen Z-J., Shi Y, Sun Y, Zhang B, Liang X, Cao Y et al. Fresh versus frozen embryos for infertility in the polycystic ovary syndrome. N Engl J Med 2016;375:523-33.  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
Maheshwari A, Pandey S, Raja EA, Shetty A, Hamilton M, Bhattacharya S. Is frozen embryo transfer better for mothers and babies? Can cumulative meta-analysis provide a definitive answer? Hum Reprod Update 2018;24:35-58.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
Shi Y, Sun Y, Hao C, Zhang H, Wei D, Zhang Y et al. Transfer of fresh versus frozen embryos in ovulatory women. N Engl J Med 2018;378:126-36.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
Vuong LN, Dang VQ, Ho TM, Huynh BG, Ha DT, Pham TD et al. IVF transfer of fresh or frozen embryos in women without polycystic ovaries. N Engl J Med 2018;378:137-47.  Back to cited text no. 4
    




 

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