Embryo Pooling in IVF Treatment
Embryo pooling, or the pool technique in IVF treatment, refers to the method of conducting two or more egg retrieval procedures (OPU) without performing an embryo transfer. The embryos obtained from these procedures are frozen and stored in a “pool.” These embryos are later thawed together and transferred into the uterus, either prepared naturally or with medication. The success of this method relies on the IVF center having an excellent vitrification (embryo freezing) technique.
Embryo pooling is typically recommended for couples with diminished egg reserves or those who have experienced unsuccessful IVF treatments. The main objectives and benefits of this technique include:
- Increasing Success Rates:
Using the embryo pooling method has two significant advantages in increasing pregnancy rates per embryo transfer. Firstly, especially in women with low ovarian reserve, increasing the number of embryos transferred can enhance the chances of success. Additionally, when embryos accumulated in the pool are thawed together, it becomes possible to monitor them until advanced developmental stages. Monitoring embryos up to the blastocyst stage, which occurs around the fifth day, enables the selection of embryos with the highest potential for implantation and a higher likelihood of genetic normalcy.
- Reducing Costs:
In cases where a small number of embryos are obtained in the initial IVF cycle, freezing embryos without immediate transfer significantly reduces the cost of subsequent egg retrieval procedures. This approach results in approximately a 50% reduction in the overall treatment cost for subsequent cycles. By reducing costs, it becomes feasible to offer more IVF treatments to couples, thereby improving their chances of success. Another advantage is seen in cases where Preimplantation Genetic Testing (PGT) is planned, as pooling embryos allows for biopsying a larger number of embryos simultaneously, reducing the overall cost of PGT.
- Alleviating Anxiety:
Couples who have experienced one or more negative pregnancy outcomes after embryo transfer often face increased anxiety, negatively impacting treatment outcomes. One of the most challenging stages for couples is dealing with the anxiety and depression associated with a negative pregnancy result after embryo transfer. Many couples discontinue treatment due to this anxiety. However, continuing treatment after negative outcomes can increase the chances of having a child. The embryo pooling method, by reducing costs and offering higher chances per embryo transfer, can help alleviate anxiety for couples.
- Other Benefits:
- Optimizing Endometrial Receptivity: Embryo pooling provides an opportunity to transfer embryos during the period when the endometrium is most receptive, enhancing the chances of successful implantation.
- Reducing Medication Dosages: Some couples opting for embryo pooling may have women with an extremely diminished ovarian reserve, leading to a short follicular phase. On the other hand, there may be cases where ovaries respond slowly to stimulation, resulting in a prolonged treatment duration. By using fewer medications or even opting for a natural cycle, multiple egg retrievals can be performed, allowing for the pooling of embryos and the transfer of embryos that have advanced to later developmental stages, such as the blastocyst stage.
In conclusion, the embryo pooling technique offers valuable results for many couples. It provides an effective means of increasing success rates, reducing costs, and alleviating anxiety associated with IVF treatment.