The use of microbes for the transport of embryos has received a lot of recent publicity. There have been reports in various news sources that this new treatment can help preserve the quality and number of embryos used for IVF treatments. But is this method appropriate for all types of in vitro fertilization (IVF) procedures? What are the facts of this treatment and how is it different from the conventional one?
Microtubes, also known as "microfibers" or "microwaves" can be used to transport embryos through the uterus during the first three months of pregnancy. These can also be used after the first trimester for more rapid in-vitro fertilization (IVF). The method is not unique; it actually originated with early 20th century French scientists who developed a process of heating a test tube with a piece of test film to allow the growth of cells within a petri dish (fig). The test tubes were placed in a warm box to allow for the complete growth of the culture. Once the cells had matured, the embryos could be transferred into the woman's uterus where they quickly took the form of a baby.
The earliest form of this treatment was a transfer of three-month-old embryos in Petri dishes without washing them. This allowed the embryos to develop at a very low rate and led to less damaged or even no embryo damage at all. In the last few decades, this technique has improved considerably but still remains quite controversial in the scientific and medical communities. For one thing, it is now known that it is likely to result in genetic abnormalities if not followed correctly, making it inappropriate for use with some specific types of fertility treatments. Therefore, it is extremely important that any clinic offering transport of embryos to a clinic or doctor uses a sterile procedure unless paid for through insurance.
Another issue is whether to allow a surrogate to transport embryos herself or use a paid donor. While most clinics will support the right of the intended mother to use her own eggs, some will not. If a surrogate uses her own eggs and wants to be connected to the donor, later on, it may mean she will have to go through the process of becoming pregnant again before she can donate her baby. For those who want to be able to start their family immediately, this may not be an issue, but it should be noted that not all clinics offer this option. As a surrogate who wants to transport embryos to a donor, later on, this can be a complicated and expensive process.
In addition, many people are surprised to learn that some countries do not recognize the right to create embryos and then use them for surrogacy. These countries deem surrogacy to be in violation of their country's rules and regulations and are officially prohibiting the transportation of these embryos. The loophole is that these laws are rarely applied to the importing of sperm, which is commonly used in surrogacy practices. However, egg and sperm are both used for creating embryos for various reasons by different couples and it is unlikely that any country would prohibit both methods.
If you're considering surrogacy and are considering transporting your embryos, you might consider just shipping through ARK Cryo instead of transporting them through unsafe hands. Because they're so small, mammals don't need to be put in a dish - there's plenty of room for them in a cardboard box or plastic bag in a truck or a freezer, and no need to be in a dish in the lab. Some of these companies even offer these services nationwide. It might be wise to look into this option, as the fees to transport them domestically might be more than the fees to transport them internationally. With the recent popularity of surrogate motherhood, it may also be easier to get an entire unit shipped abroad for use.