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  • 2660 Electric Road, Suite: D Roanoke, VA 24018
  • 1-800-777-4831
  • (904)-398-1407
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Embryo Freezing Process and Frozen Embryo Transfer Process Explained

Embryo freezing or embryo cryopreservation is an important aspect of the IVF process for many people. During IVF stimulation multiple embryos may result which often leaves the patient wondering, “How many embryos should I transfer”? Dr. Shaykh will give you his recommendation of how many embryos to transfer based on the quality of the embryos, the patient’s age, and other factors.

He will also give the patient the recommendation of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine on how many embryos to transfer and then let the patient decide on what they would like to do. Many times, one or more embryos are transferred to the uterus and there are embryos leftover. What should be done with leftover embryos is something many couples undergoing IVF are faced with making a decision about. When it comes to leftover embryos there are 3 options; Freeze any remaining embryos for future use, discard any remaining embryos or anonymously donate any remaining embryos to another couple. Elective single embryo transfers are recommended by the CDC to reduce the risk of twin pregnancy.

Embryo cryopreservation or embryo freezing is recommended for several reasons. Even if the embryo transfer went perfect and the embryos were graded high quality, there is still a chance that the embryo transfer will not be successful and that the embryos will not implant on their own once inserted into the uterus.

There is also the chance that the embryos may have inherited a genetic disorder or DNA abnormality from the male or female which may result in an early miscarriage or chemical pregnancy. Furthermore, with any pregnancy, there is a chance of miscarriage or stillborn. Based on all of the above factors, embryo freezing is highly recommended if at all possible .

Additionally, if the implantation is successful; the couple may desire more children in the future without having to repeat the IVF procedure again. Having frozen embryos available can save the couple time and money instead of having to pay for IVF procedure and medication costs again. Embryo freezing and storage is relatively inexpensive compared to having to undergo IVF treatment all over again.
Many couples who undergo IVF choose to freeze embryos as an extra insurance in case their first embryo transfer fails so they do not have to repeat the entire IVF procedure. In some cases however, embryo cryopreservation may not be possible due to the amount of eggs the woman produced, the amount of eggs which were able to be fertilized and the amount of healthy embryos available on the day of the embryo transfer.

Dr. Shaykh recommends freezing any and all remaining embryos if at all possible. Embryo freezing is inexpensive and the embryos can be stored at our facility for future use or transferred to a long term storage facility. You can read more about our low cost In-Vitro Fertilization, the cost of freezing embryos and our FET cost on our IVF pricing page.
It is also important to note that statistics suggest that frozen embryo transfers as compared to fresh embryo transfers result in higher IVF success rates. In cases where there is a risk of ovarian hyper stimulation, frozen embryo transfers using cryopreserved embryos can be especially useful and make pregnancy possible when it when it would not be possible otherwise.

What is the process for embryo freezing?

On the day of your embryo transfer and after you and your partner have given written consent, any remaining embryo’s not transferred to your uterus will be cryopreserved or frozen in our CAP accredited Assisted reproductive technology (ART) Laboratory by our experienced embryologist.

Once frozen, these embryos can last many years until ready to use again. Once you are ready, a frozen embryo simply needs to be thawed and inserted into your uterus once it has been prepared. Our staff will call you once the embryos are frozen with an update on how many of your embryos were able to be cryopreserved and stored.

Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET)

What to expect during a frozen embryo transfer. Once the patient has decided they want to undergo a FET to achieve pregnancy, the uterus is prepared with hormones that mimic the body’s natural process of preparing for a pregnancy. Typically lupron (leuprolide) is used for a short time before estrace (estrogen) is introduced. Once the patient’s uterine lining is responding well to the estrace and the lining thickness has become adequate for embryo implantation, progesterone is given for several days before the scheduled embryo transfer procedure.

After the procedure the patient will continue to use either crinone or endometrin (progesterone vaginal cream) until the scheduled pregnancy blood test (beta HCG) which is typically 12-14 days after the embryo transfer procedure. At this point, Dr. Shaykh and his staff hope to call you with a successful IVF announcement and schedule you for an ultrasound.

The entire process for a frozen embryo transfer is similar to a regular embryo transfer. The only variant is that the embryo must be thawed and prepared in the ART lab prior to your appointment. The frozen embryo transfer is done under transvaginal ultrasound guidance for added precision and for added comfort to the patient.

Unlike other IVF centers, which use abdominal ultrasound and require the patient to have a full bladder (which can be quite uncomfortable), Dr. Shaykh uses a special catheter he designed which can be used with transvaginal ultrasound. Both the patient and the specialist can watch the entire procedure on the screen and visualize as the embryo or embryos are inserted into the uterus.
The embryo transfer procedure usually takes less than 10 minutes and patients describe it as similar to having a pap smear performed. There is minimal discomfort, and then patient is asked to remain lying down for 10-20 minutes after the procedure. After the procedure, the patient can go home and is advised to rest for the remainder of the day.

Frequently asked questions about frozen embryo transfers (FET’s)

Do I have to have a full bladder for a frozen embryo transfer?

No, since Dr. Shaykh uses a special catheter he developed and designed, there is no need to have a full bladder during the procedure. This reduces the discomfort normally associated with having to have a full bladder for an embryo transfer or frozen embryo transfer procedure .

Can I have my frozen embryos shipped to your facility?

Yes, many patients who have undergone IVF at another facility have their frozen embryos shipped to our facility and undergo an FET procedure with Dr Shaykh due the lower cost, years of experience and added comfort of his special catheter.

What happens if my frozen embryos do not survive the thawing process?

Our IVF lab is accredited by the American Association of Pathologists (CAP) and our Embryologist has many years of experience thawing and preparing embryos. While there is a small chance that an embryo may not survive the thawing process, it is unlikely and our ART team takes special precautions when handling and preparing frozen embryos for transfer.

What medications are needed for a frozen embryo transfer (FET)?

Every patient’s treatment regimen is different but a standard medication regimen includes the following; leuprolide (lupron), progesterone, and estrogen (estrace). Other medications are also used based on the patient’s specific treatment plan and infertility history.

Frequently asked questions about cryopreservation of embryos

How are embryos frozen?

Embryos are cryopreserved using liquid nitrogen vapor and are stored in special tanks which result in high survival rates of the cryopreserved embryos.

How long can frozen embryos be stored for?

Frozen embryos can be stored for many years. Dr. Shaykh has had many successful pregnancies as a result of frozen embryo transfers .

What is the success rate for frozen embryo transfers?
Our IVF and FET success rates exceed the national average. You can read more about our FET success rates here.

How long can I keep my embryos stored at your lab?

Typically embryos are stored at our lab for 1 year before they are sent to a long term storage facility. However if you are planning to use the embryos at a specific date/time they may be stored at our facility longer than one year .

Things to consider when selecting an IVF doctor

It is important when researching IVF costs and FET costs to get all of the pricing and information upfront and to make sure the fertility doctor has adequate experience. Our IVF center in Florida was the first IVF program in North Florida/Southeast Georgia and was established in 1985 by Dr. Marwan Shaykh whom has over 30 years of experience. Our other fertility clinic is located in Roanoke, Virginia. Dr. Shaykh personally performs all procedures. Please contact us at 1-800-777-4831 or 904-398-1407 to learn more about our low cost In Vitro .