A study to determine if using only frozen embryos during IVF will lead to more pregnancies and healthy babies has been launched by leading fertility clinic Genea.
The world first research project will involve 200 patients in Sydney and will test the hypothesis that success rates could be increased if embryos created during the IVF process are monitored for five days, then those that are developing normally are frozen and then thawed and implanted during a woman’s natural menstrual cycle.
The traditional model of IVF involves the transfer of fresh embryos, following hormone stimulation and the results of the study could lead to a major re-think of the way the technology is used in the future.
The commencement of the trial comes after an Australian study published last month concluded that birth defects were significantly decreased among IVF babies who were conceived following a frozen embryo transfer than those from fresh transfers.*
Dr Mark Livingstone, a senior Genea infertility specialist, is leading the EVA (Elective Vitrification of All embryos) Trial.
“This could be a very important trial if it changes the way we think about the freezing of embryos,” Dr Livingstone said.
“It could potentially change the way we provide IVF, as we continue our commitment to offering our patients the best possible chance of achieving a healthy on-going pregnancy.”
Genea Scientific Director Steven McArthur said Genea undertook constant research and innovation to improve success rates for patients using assisted reproductive technology.
"Research like this is a vital part of that process. Our commitment to research has allowed us to continue to be world leaders in fertility and this study could potentially help us to solve another part of the infertility puzzle.”
At Genea, success rates from frozen embryos are now on a par with fresh embryos. Currently, patients have a frozen embryo transfer either following a fresh transfer that did not develop into a pregnancy, or when they are trying for another baby following a successful fresh transfer and they have frozen embryos in storage.
Currently, the best appearing embryo is usually transferred first – and fresh – but it is possible that this practice might actually compromise that embryo’s chance of success, in contrast to returning the leading embryo later into a more natural environment.
The EVA Trial is therefore aimed at discovering if there are advantages to transferring the best embryo into the uterus during a natural menstrual cycle – rather than straight after the use of hormones to stimulate the ovaries to produce more eggs during an IVF cycle when the lining of the uterus might not be receptive to the embryo.
“The transfer of a fresh rather than frozen embryo has been the traditional model for IVF – and is promoted by some clinics as a ‘gold standard’. But the best and quickest way to achieve a healthy baby may be from transferring a single frozen and thawed embryo,” Genea Medical Director Associate Professor Mark Bowman said.
*N Eng J Med 2012; online 5 May
At Genea, overall, almost 60 per cent of our patients – regardless of age – will have a baby. And 90 per cent of these women will have a baby within three or less cycles of IVF.
More on our success rates and technology
About Dr Mark Livingstone