Pioneering Technology

Understanding and interpreting IVF success rates reported by various clinics has changed dramatically in the last few years. In the past, the definition of success has typically been a live birth per fresh embryo transfer immediately following an egg retrieval. During this time, clinics struggled to grow embryos for more than three days in the lab. Freezing techniques were poor, so there was a premium on transferring embryos in the same cycle as the egg retrieval, knowing that if they were frozen, decreased viability would result.

CCRM has pioneered a paradigm shift in IVF technology. First, we developed sequential culture media to successfully grow embryos to the blastocyst stage (day 5 or 6). We have further shown that blastocyst stage embryos have markedly higher implantation rates compared to day 3 embryos. Secondly, we pioneered comprehensive chromosomal screening (testing all 46 chromosomes of the embryo at the blastocyst stage), and have shown that this further improves the success of IVF, while at the same time lowering miscarriage rates. A third breakthrough was the ability to successfully vitrify (rapid freezing method) these blastocysts after biopsy with a greater than 98% survival rate. As we began transferring these frozen and thawed chromosomally normal blastocysts, we found pregnancy rates were higher than we had ever achieved with IVF, and at the same time miscarriage rates were very low, resulting in significantly higher live birth rates for women even in their early forties.

To give the majority of our patients the benefits of this new technology shift, the majority (85%) of our cycles at CCRM are frozen embryo transfers following culture to the blastocyst stage and comprehensive chromosomal screening. In examining our success rates on the SART website and other sites, one can see that our frozen embryo transfer success rates in every age category are among the highest in the world. Our fresh embryo transfer rates are lower because: 1) Only a small minority of our patients are pursuing fresh embryo transfers; and 2) These are often patients with the poorest prognosis for success, having only a few eggs, and therefore deciding not to pursue culture to the blastocyst stage and chromosomal testing. Since over two-thirds of all of our cycles are now performed as frozen embryo transfers, it is important to look at our frozen embryo transfer success rates in your age group to understand your chance for having a baby here at CCRM.

It should also be noted that worldwide, many other centers have confirmed the improved pregnancy outcome with frozen embryo transfer cycles compared to fresh embryo transfer cycles that is believed to be due to a better synchronization between the embryo’s growth and the uterus’s receptivity. Finally, studies are also showing improved obstetrical outcomes; that is to say, pregnancies after frozen embryo transfers appear to be safer and are associated with fewer complications. I hope this information helps you interpret our IVF success rates in the rapidly changing field of IVF.

CCRM is leading innovator in IVF:
1st GIFT and ZIFT pregnancies in Colorado, 1987
1st frozen embryo pregnancy in Colorado, 1988
1st donor egg baby to be born in Colorado, 1990
Pioneered assisted hatching in Colorado with significant improvements to IVF success rates, 1993
1st pregnancy resulting from ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection) in Colorado, 1994
Pioneered blastocyst culture worldwide with significant improvements to IVF success rates, 1996
1st clinic in Colorado to successfully freeze eggs and embryos using vitrification techniques, 2007
1st frozen egg baby to be born in Colorado, 2007
1st successful blastocyst biopsy in combination with CCS (comprehensive chromosomal screening) worldwide with significant improvements to IVF success rates, 2007. 1st baby born from this procedure in 2008
1st clinic worldwide to offer women 38-42years significant improvements of having a baby through IVF with CCS
1st clinic in Colorado to implement a Fertility Assessment Program allowing women to understand their fertility continuum, 2014