Cryopreservation of human embryos: Progress on the clinical use of the technique in human in vitro fertilization

  • Lesley Freemann
  • Alan Trounson
  • Carol Kirby


Embryo cryopreservation has been studied at Monash University since 1981 and has been available to patients since mid-1983. Of approximately 1200 patients' cycles of in vitro fertilization (IVF), 445 have had excess embryos which they requested to be frozen. To date 205 patients have requested thawing of their embryos and 144 have had frozen-thawed embryos replaced in utero, resulting in 16 pregnancies. Four of these pregnancies aborted, four are ongoing, and eight deliveries have resulted, including one stillbirth at 26 weeks and one set of twins. Analysis of the data collected to date shows that patients with three or more embryos frozen have a significantly higher pregnancy rate than patients with one or two embryos frozen (23 versus 4%, respectively). Embryo viability, but not embryo survival, following freezethawing is related to the degree of embryonic fragmentation and the cell stage at freezing. Eight-cell embryos had a significantly higher viability than other cleavage stages. Those resulting in pregnancy tended to be the faster-dividing eight-cell embryos and were undamaged after freezing and thawing. However, when considering all cleavage stages, there was little effect of freezing damage on embryo viability, providing that at least 50% of the cell complement of embryos were intact and the zona pellucida was undamaged. Nor was there any marked effect of the age of embryos postinsemination. It is also possible that patients who were pregnant following the initial embryo replacement on the cycle of IVF treatment are more likely to conceive following replacement of their frozen-thawed embryos.

Key Words

human embryos freezing pregnancy birth 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lesley Freemann
    • 1
  • Alan Trounson
    • 1
  • Carol Kirby
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Early Human Development, Monash University, Queen Victoria Medical CentreMelbourneAustralia

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