When a couple first comes to us for treatment, the very first thing we do is counsel and educate them. In fact, this becomes the foundation of the entire procedure. The things we discuss with them at this point of time are the very things that will help them manage some of the rough patches they go through later. Apart from various details about the procedure itself, we also talk to our patients about what frozen embryos are and how they are used in the IVF procedure.

As a part of the IVF procedure, we first harvest and fertilize the maximum number of eggs we can. This is what we follow, regardless of whether you choose to use your own or a donor’s eggs. In case the number of eggs is more than what we need in a fresh cycle, the ones that are left over will be cryogenically preserved. If necessary, these will be used in future pregnancy efforts.

Though this is what we aim to do, not all the patients actually have extra embryos that are of a good enough quality for freezing. However, for patients who have good quality embryos, we do tell recommend that they freeze these. Not all patients want to or are inclined to spend that additional money.

Frozen embryos- the benefits

Their concern is that the success rates with these embryos won’t be good; the fact is that frozen embryos are equally precious and there are a number of benefits attached to them:

  • As stated earlier, in case your fresh cycle wasn’t successful, these frozen embryos give you the opportunity to try again; but this time around, you don’t really have to go through all the motions all over again. Your frozen embryos will be thawed and used in your next IVF cycle.
  • Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET) cycles don’t cost as much as fresh cycles do as the  treatment and medication costs are far lower as are the monitoring visits  and there is no egg retrieval or insemination procedure involved either.
  • Since there is no egg retrieval  and no anesthesia, its becomes easier for our patients
  • We closely monitor our patients for ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS); we also use different stimulation protocols. These are designed to reduce the risk of this syndrome.  In case we do see any warning signs of the patient being at risk of OHSS, we quickly recommend to the patient that the rest of her embryos should be frozen. These embryos can then be used at a later point of time via FET
  • Once you have had your first baby, your a frozen embryos can also be stored for later use, in case you decide to add another child to your family. Since we use the vitrification procedure to store embryos, they have a very good shelf life and can last for a number of years

Once your family is complete, chances are, there are still some embryos left over and most couples are in a quandary as to what they can do with them. There are options such as:

  • Donate embryos to other infertile couples
  • Donate them to medical research
  • Thaw them and let the embryos pass on naturally

It’s true that this decision can be a difficult one but it’s something that most couples have to take a decision on.

Not happy with the attention you are getting from your IVF clinic? Need more information? Please send me your medical details by filling in the form at www.drmalpani.com/free-second-opinion so that I can guide you!

Authored by : Dr Aniruddha Malpani, MD and reviewed by Dr Anjali Malpani.

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