Embryo freezing is a procedure that allows people to store embryos for later use. A person can also freeze eggs, which are not fertilized. An embryo forms after fertilization and after the cells start to divide.
A person may decide to store an embryo if they hope to become pregnant in the future, to donate to others, for medical research, or for training purposes.
The process begins by using hormones and other medications to stimulate the production of potentially fertile eggs. A doctor then extracts the eggs from the ovaries, either for fertilizing in a lab or for freezing.
Successful fertilization may lead to at least one healthy embryo. A doctor can then transfer the embryo to the womb, or uterus. If the treatment is successful, the embryo will develop.
Fertilization often results in more than one embryo, and the doctor can freeze and preserve the remaining embryos.
What is an embryo, and how do people create one?
In our hospital, a doctor will extract the eggs, using an ultrasound machine to ensure accuracy.
A person may wish to freeze their eggs. Or, they may wish to use them at once to become pregnant. In this case, the doctor may recommend in vitro fertilization (IVF) or intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).
During IVF, the doctor exposes the eggs to sperm and leaves them in a laboratory for fertilization to take place. After this, the correct term for a fertilized egg is an embryo.
An embryologist will monitor the development of the embryos over the next 6 days, after which they may choose a suitable embryo for implantation.
During ICSI, the doctor extracts the eggs and injects a single sperm directly into an egg.
They may do this if there is a problem with the sperm or if past attempts at IVF have not resulted in fertilization. The doctor may use one embryo and freeze the others.