Freezing of embryos and frozen embryo transfers are becoming a formidable option in Assisted Reproduction Technology. Embryo freezing is a procedure followed after an in-vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment. It is done when there are additional embryos that you want to preserve. However, there could be other reasons why you would want to freeze your embryos and consider frozen embryo transfers in future:
Beating the Biological clock – In a day and age when couples go for a child in later stages of life, a frozen embryo gives a better chance at pregnancy even for women above the age of 35.
Less Medication – As the embryos are already frozen, the patient needs to undergo less medication when compared to going in for a fresh embryo transfer. Instead of stimulation medication, patients use estrogen and progesterone to thicken the lining of their uterus in preparation for the embryo transfer to allow implantation.
Not leaving it to chance - One of the benefits of IVF embryo freezing, is knowing in advance the number of embryos available to you. Not all fertilized eggs will turn into embryos, so by freezing embryos versus eggs, you are reducing the risk of not preserving enough eggs for later IVF treatments.
Another consideration to be kept in mind is the sperm donor. If you do not currently have a partner or do not want to use an anonymous sperm donor, you may choose egg freezing rather than embryo freezing.
Now that we have got that out of our way, let’s dive further into steps involved in frozen embryo transfer.
The frozen embryo transfer process begins with a pre-medication ultrasound to ensure there are no cysts or other structural problems. Once cleared to start a cycle, medication is given to the patient to optimize the lining of the uterus for implantation. The patient will be given estrogen and progesterone injections every third day for up to 2 to 3 weeks, and the uterine lining is checked by post-medication ultrasound.
Post that it is finally time for the actual procedure. The procedure for frozen embryo transfer is similar to the procedure for fresh embryo transfer. First, the embryos are thawed. Next, the doctor loads a catheter with the embryos. Transvaginal ultrasound is used to guide the placement of the catheter through the cervix and into the uterus. In cases where it is too difficult to pass through the cervix, embryo transfer may be performed through incisions in the abdomen (though this technique is rarely needed).
Once the catheter tip is in place, the embryologist deposits the embryos into the uterus. The doctor removes the catheter, then inspects it to ensure that all of the embryos were actually deposited.
The frozen embryo transfer timeline
After an embryo transfer is completed, it takes about nine days before a pregnancy can be detected. During the days after a transfer, the following happens to the embryo:
Day 1: The blastocyst begins to hatch out of its shell.
Day 2: The blastocyst continues to hatch out of its shell and begins to attach itself to the uterus.
Day 3: The blastocyst attaches deeper into the uterine lining, beginning implantation.
Day 4: Implantation continues.
Day 5: Implantation is complete. Cells that eventually become the placenta and fetus have begun to develop.
Day 6: Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), the hormone that signals a developing pregnancy, starts to enter the blood stream.
Days 7 and 8: Fetal development continues and hCG continues to be secreted.
Day 9: Levels of hCG are now high enough in maternal blood to detect a pregnancy using a blood test.
Find success with Frozen embryo transfer
When it comes to fresh vs. frozen embryo transfers, a variety of studies have been performed. For example, some studies supporting frozen embryos favor women between the ages of 35 and 42. These women chose to freeze their eggs when they were younger, therefore the eggs took to their bodies more successfully than if they had gone through the process of extracting and fertilizing them at their current age. Another consideration was highlighted by the Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine where they found a “2.8 percent miscarriage rate following CCS with a frozen transfer compared to 18.5 percent in the fresh transfer group.”
Frozen embryo transfer (FET) costs
Compared to a fresh IVF cycle, a frozen embryo transfer is more cost effective. If your first cycle doesn’t play out the way you expected it to, having a batch of extra frozen embryos to use will mitigate the need to go through another round of fertility medications—which can be costly. This is where freezing the embryo helps. The initial fresh cycle is used to freeze embryos so that you do not have to undergo the procedure again thus resulting in cost savings.
Making Your Decision
In the end, going for a fresh embryo or frozen embryo transfer is a personal choice and varies from individual to individual. In order to make your decision, talk to your doctors and fertility specialists and consider all of the steps carefully.
To lead you on the right path of IVF treatment & frozen embryo transfer, MMC IVF is offering you an opportunity to consult with a world-class fertility specialists for a one-on-one discussion. All you have to do is make an appointment with us at (phone number) or write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will get back to you promptly. The best part is that you can stay at home and talk to our specialists online. In addition, you can request for a second opinion on the diagnosis and treatment. Reach out to MMC IVF and we will fix an appointment for it.