Is Frozen Embryo Transfer Right for Me?

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At least one in six couples are affected by some form of infertility and seek the help of fertility specialists. The actual numbers of people that struggle with infertility are difficult to estimate however, as many may not seek treatment or suffer recurrent pregnancy loss, which is a form of infertility, though they would not be counted in the official number of those technically categorized as infertile.

Choices in Fertility Treatment

The journey through fertility issues can be very difficult, filled with many difficult choices. Once the kind of infertility has been diagnosed, various treatments will be considered, usually starting with the least invasive first. If the couple has failed to conceive with other treatments, they may progress to IVF treatments. During the IVF process, any embryos created and not used in the cycle may be frozen, and preserved for a future frozen embryo transfer.

Why Some Couples Choose to Cryopreserve Embryos

• To be used in future frozen embryo transfer

• To be donated

Embryo Cryopreservation Procedure

The cryopreservation procedure allows embryos to be preserved one to six days after fertilization for up to 10 years. The process involves several steps, which include:

• Embryos are places in separate thin glass vials

• A special solution is added, preventing the formation of ice between the cells of the


• The vials are stored in a controlled freezer containing liquid nitrogen.

Embryo Thawing Procedure

In order for a frozen embryo transfer to take place, the embryo, or embryos, must be thawed.

• The embryo is removed from the freezer and thaws to room temperature

• Any solutions used in the preservation is removed

• The embryo is warmed to body temperature and placed in a culture medium

The Frozen Embryo Transfer Procedure

Like the IVF procedure, ovulation and endometrial development is carefully monitored to determine the most optimum moment to transfer the frozen embryo into the uterus. Patients experience very little, if any, discomfort during the procedure.

• A thin catheter is placed in the uterus through the cervix

• The once frozen embryo is transferred to the uterus through the catheter

• The patient lies still, resting for several minutes, up to an hour, as the embryo

settles into the uterine lining

What are the Success Rates Involving Frozen Embryo Transfer?

As in all fertility treatments, there are a number of factors impacting the success rate of Frozen Embryo Transfer procedures. On average, the success rate is 20% per cycle. 30% of embryos will not survive the cryopreservation process.

Factoring the Cost When Making a Decision

Many couples must plan their fertility treatment choices around financial considerations. When deciding if frozen embryo transfer is right for you, consider the total financial impact of your options. While the FET procedure can be quite costly, it may still be more financially feasible than continued IVF treatments.

Choosing a fertility treatment is a very personal process with many things to be considered. Over all, many people have had more success with the FET than fresh embryo transfer and report the process being less stressful and much more comfortable.


Andi Beark has a passion for women's health issues. Realizing that nearly 7 million Americans face some type of infertility problem, she began writing about topics from embryo donation programs to fertility treatments to adoptions. Visit San Francisco infertility specialist, RSC Bay Area, for information and support on these topics and more.

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