What Do I Do With My Embryos After IVF

What are the options for my created embryos? This article was written by Dr. Vicken Sahakian from Pacific Fertility Center andCircle Surrogacy. It was originally published in 2019 and updated in 2023.

The process of In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) can be emotional and complicated, not to mention one that takes longer than parents expect. When you begin the IVF process, there is planning to do to better understand the options you have on your journey.

IVF involves creating embryos using eggs and sperm in a medical facility. Some patients produce embryos to transfer to an intended mother to carry the baby. For patients who cannot carry a baby, they can use a gestational carrier and transfer to an alternate.

Before you begin this process, however, there are considerations and questions, and as a patient, you need to understand your options.

What happens when these embryos are created?

Once the embryos are created, they can be transferred fresh, or frozen for later use.

Will my embryos be used as fresh or frozen embryos?

Although fresh embryos can be transferred, it ultimately depends on the patient and the doctor. Today, the use of frozen embryos is more common.

In recent years, advances in freezing technology have allowed us to freeze embryos and thaw them without damaging them. It changed the way we practice. Now, almost always, embryos are created in advance and frozen, to be used later. Once frozen, they do not deteriorate over time. In fact, we have had babies born from embryos that have been frozen for over two decades.

Should I test my embryos?

The researcher performs color tests on several test tubesPatients will need to determine if they want to genetically test their embryos. Advances in genetic testing now give patients the option to be genetically tested by biopsying small amounts of genetic material for Preimplantation Genetic Testing BEFORE freezing.

By testing their embryos before freezing them, the patient now has important information about the embryos they have frozen, and the probability of success with them.

What happens that leads to embryo transfer?

Once the decision to transfer an embryo is made, the intended mother or gestational carrier goes through a frozen embryo cycle and an embryo is implanted in her uterus after thawing it. After some time (10 days or more) the patient will receive confirmation about the outcome of the transfer. Hopefully, after nine short months a baby will arrive!

What do I do with my remaining embryos?

embryo transferIn many cases, after transfer, you may have many embryos still frozen in storage. You probably keep them for two reasons:

  • Keep your embryos frozen for sibling travel. Parents who want to grow their family again can use fixed ones later. There are fees associated with
  • Keep your embryos frozen until you decide the future of your family. They can remain frozen in storage (for a fee) until you confirm that you have completed your family.

Once you have decided that your family is complete, you will need to determine the fate of your embryos. This can be a very difficult decision for many patients, who go through a great emotional process throughout the IVF process. If your embryos were produced with an egg donor, please refer back to the donor contract regarding the options discussed for them.

You have 4 options for your frozen embryos:

  1. Scientist using dropper on test tubesKeep embryos frozen indefinitely. If you decide to do this, you will need to pay for storage as long as you keep them.
  2. Agree to throw them away. In such cases, the IVF lab will simply dispose of the embryos on a certified order form directly to you.
  3. Donate your embryos to someone. You have the opportunity to donate your frozen embryos anonymously or directly to another couple or individual you know.
  4. Give them research. In this case, the IVF lab usually guides you and refers you to an entity that will accept them for research.

As you can see, creating your embryos is just the first step. There is much to think about in the future. These decisions can be difficult, and it’s important to prepare yourself emotionally, as well as intellectually by educating yourself on your options.

You can always talk to your IVF doctor or medical staff for more information.

If you are interested in learning more about IVF, embryo production or embryo storage, get in touch Pacific Fertility Center.

If you are interested in learning more about parenting through surrogacy, contact Circle Surrogacy.

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