Transfer of Fresh versus Frozen Embryos in Ovulatory Women

N Engl J Med. 2018 Jan 11;378(2):126-136. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1705334.


Background: Elective frozen-embryo transfer has been shown to result in a higher live-birth rate than fresh-embryo transfer among anovulatory women with the polycystic ovary syndrome. It is uncertain whether frozen-embryo transfer increases live-birth rates among ovulatory women with infertility.

Methods: In this multicenter, randomized trial, we randomly assigned 2157 women who were undergoing their first in vitro fertilization cycle to undergo either fresh-embryo transfer or embryo cryopreservation followed by frozen-embryo transfer. Up to two cleavage-stage embryos were transferred in each participant. The primary outcome was a live birth after the first embryo transfer.

Results: The live-birth rate did not differ significantly between the frozen-embryo group and the fresh-embryo group (48.7% and 50.2%, respectively; relative risk, 0.97; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.89 to 1.06; P=0.50). There were also no significant between-group differences in the rates of implantation, clinical pregnancy, overall pregnancy loss, and ongoing pregnancy. Frozen-embryo transfer resulted in a significantly lower risk of the ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome than fresh-embryo transfer (0.6% vs. 2.0%; relative risk, 0.32; 95% CI, 0.14 to 0.74; P=0.005). The risks of obstetrical and neonatal complications and other adverse outcomes did not differ significantly between the two groups.

Conclusions: The live-birth rate did not differ significantly between fresh-embryo transfer and frozen-embryo transfer among ovulatory women with infertility, but frozen-embryo transfer resulted in a lower risk of the ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome. (Funded by the National Key Research and Development Program of China and the National Natural Science Foundation of China; Chinese Clinical Trial Registry number, ChiCTR-IOR-14005406 .).

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cryopreservation*
  • Embryo Transfer* / methods
  • Female
  • Fertilization in Vitro*
  • Humans
  • Infertility, Female*
  • Intention to Treat Analysis
  • Live Birth*
  • Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome / etiology
  • Ovulation Induction / adverse effects
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Rate

Associated data

  • ChiCTR/ChiCTR-IOR-14005406