Advanced blastocyst culture system and transfer, the double stimulation protocol, and blastocyst vitrification (freeze all IVF) are 3 advances in IVF technology that have improved the number of live births in each stimulated IVF cycle, and have been routinely practised at Mount Elizabeth Fertility Centre since 2002.
Developments in blastocyst culture and transfer have resulted in improved IVF pregnancy rates and reduced multiple births. At Mount Elizabeth Fertility Centre, our strict laboratory standards with ideal culture conditions allow us to support the growth of embryos to the blastocyst stage, where we are able to select the healthiest embryos with the highest potential for implantation (those that are mostly likely to attach to the uterine wall and develop into a healthy pregnancy).
Only 1 or 2 blastocysts will be selected for transfer back to the mother, compared to the traditional transfer of 3 or 4 early-stage embryos, thus increasing the chances of a successful pregnancy while reducing the risk of multiple births.
Our chief embryologist, Ms Ng Lai Cheng, has been culturing blastocysts since 1993, first as part of an animal research co-culture team in blastocyst culture and transfer and later on in clinical embryology.
In classic IVF procedures, only 1 oocyte retrieval (egg collection) is performed using mild ovarian stimulation during the early follicular phase. The double stimulation protocol is where a 2nd oocyte retrieval is performed during luteal-phase stimulation. This allows the retrieval of more oocytes. Retrieval of more oocytes allows for better chances in obtaining quality blastocysts and therefore higher pregnancy success rates. The double stimulation protocol is especially beneficial for women who are poor ovarian responders, which could be due to factors such as low ovarian reserves or older age.
Freeze-all Blastocysts Strategy
At Mount Elizabeth Fertility Centre, we routinely apply a current laboratory technique known as freeze-all IVF. Vitrification is one of the effective methods for the successful freezing of blastocysts, allowing for improved post-thaw embryo survival and thus better pregnancy rates. The freeze-all blastocysts strategy is especially beneficial for women who are diagnosed with low ovarian reserves or women who encounter poor ovarian response during the IVF treatment.
Women of advanced maternal age, or even cancer patients who wish to preserve their fertility prior to undergoing gonadotoxic (having harmful effect on reproductive glands) cancer therapy, may also choose to benefit from this procedure.
Talk to your fertility specialist to understand more about IVF treatment and our protocols.