Understanding the human embryo

What is a human Embryo?

The Human Embryo – Human embryogenesis is the process of cell division and cellular differentiation of the human embryo that occurs during early stages of development. From a biological standpoint, human development is a continuum, starting with the germ cells (ovum and spermatozoon), through fertilization, prenatal development, and growth to adulthood. The germinal stage, refers to ovum (egg) prior to fertilization, through the development of the early embryo, up until the time of implantation.

What are the expenses in freezing the embryo?
The expenses are around 10,000 to 20,000 per year depending on centers.

What are the ways in freezing the embryo?
There are 2 ways in freezing the embryo:

  • Slow Freezing
  • Vitrification

What is vitrification?

Vitrification in the context of freezing embryos is the process whereby the solution containing the embryos is cooled so quickly that the structure of the water molecules doesn’t have time to form ice crystals and instantaneously solidifies into a glass-like structure.Unlike previous slow freeze methods, which took up to two hours to lower the embryo to the correct temperature, vitrification takes just a few minutes. The embryo is suspended in a very small volume of fluid on the end of a small flat specialisedvitrification device. The device with the embryo is lowered onto a metal block that has been cooled by liquid nitrogen where the fluid containing the embryo hardens into a small “glassy” bead.
Freezing or Vitrification of Eggs or Embryos

Freezing embryos & eggs

An IVF cycle will hopefully produce a number of viable embryos. Those that aren’t immediately transferred back to the patient are placed in cryostorage by lowering their temperature to that of liquid nitrogen (-196°C). At this temperature, embryos can be stored until they are needed for later transfer. This process is also used at Genea on unfertilised eggs.

The problem with freezing any cell in the body is that the fluid inside the cells can form ice crystals that expand and damage the cell membranes. Enormous care must be taken to avoid this. In the past this has meant that eggs and embryos were frozen using a slow programmed decrease of temperature using expensive machinery.

What does this mean to me?

Rigorous studies at Genea have shown that a greater percentage of the embryo’s cells survive thawing following vitrification than after slow freezing. Live birth rates for 2006 following the transfer of vitrified embryos increased by 50% over those where slow frozen embryos were transferred.
What is the span in which the embryo or eggs can be frozen?
According to HECA guidelines the eggs can be frozen up to 10years
Once the embryo is formed it has to be frozen with in a span of 5 days (Day 1 to Day 5) Embryo can be collected through IVF or ICSI procedures.


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