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Frozen approach to IVF increases pregnancy rates

By Gemma Gardner

Laboratory microscopic research macro concept
Laboratory microscopic research macro concept

Cambridge IVF is to become the first NHS centre in the UK to routinely freeze embryos.

The new technique will give women more than a 50-50 chance of pregnancy for the first time.

The clinic, which is part of Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, achieved a 61.8 per cent success rate for a group of 167 women between the age of 24 and 45 compared with 40.6 per cent for fresh embryos transferred.

This is nearly double the national average rate of 36 per cent for using fresh embryos, according to figures from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority.

Embryologists at the clinic, which works closely with Addenbrooke’s and the Rosie Maternity Hospital, found freezing gives them the opportunity to transfer selected embryos at a time most suitable for the patient.

Women undergoing IVF usually have a fresh embryo transferred into the uterus within a week of the eggs being retrieved.

The clinic uses a sophisticated incubator called an EmbryoScope that maintains the physiological conditions required by living embryos and includes a time-lapse camera system to monitor their development in real time, every hour of every day.

Service lead and consultant embryologist at Cambridge IVF, Stephen Harbottle, said: “Although we have been exploring the freeze technique for some years we were, frankly, taken aback by the consistent success we have achieved over the past 18 months, and we think our results will get even better. This is a significant step forward for IVF, the NHS and of course our patients.”

Cambridge IVF, which is known for championing high quality IVF at low cost to deter couples from using unregulated and unsafe overseas clinics, is to offer the technique at an additional fee of £245 per cycle to cover costs.

The development comes after the clinic unveiled a new multi-cycle IVF package, which competes with the best online prices, while fully meeting National Institute of Clinical Guidelines (NICE). The multi-cycle package costs between £6,740 and £8,990.

NHS-funded IVF in Cambridgeshire was withdrawn by the county’s clinical commissioning group in 2017. For more information on Cambridge IVF call 01223 349010 or visit, cambridge-ivf.org.uk.


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