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Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET)

Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET)

Infertility is not a disease and can have many underlying conditions. As medicine and science have made tremendous advancements, there are several alternatives and treatments for couple who want to have a child but cannot conceive naturally. Frozen Embryo Transfer or FET is one such treatment that can help couples conceive and has a fairly high success rate.

FET can give women the blessing of motherhood. At BirthRight Fertility by Rainbow Hospitals, we have renowned fertility specialists, where we use advanced technology and best-in-class facilities to explain the best treatment plan/plans for couples trying to conceive.

- During the process of assisted reproduction, the step that involves placing the embryos into the uterus of a woman to help achieve pregnancy is known as embryo transfer. This step is often used with IVF or in vitro fertilization.

- The embryos to be transferred are usually collected fresh from the fertilized egg cells of the menstrual cycle of the woman. The embryos can be frozen as well, which means they’ve been generated in a previous cycle and undergone cryopreservation. If frozen eggs are used, they are thawed just before they are transferred. There has been a uniformly positive outcome from the use of cryopreserved embryos, with no increased risk of developmental abnormalities or birth defects.

- Frozen embryo transfer is usually performed when fresh embryo transfer is unsuccessful or is intentionally avoided because of hyperstimulation or endometrium.

- It can also be used for the next pregnancy.

- Frozen embryo transfer is also used for embryo donation or oocyte donation

- The entire procedure of frozen embryo transfer is relatively simple. The embryos that were frozen are thawed before replacing them in the uterus in a natural or hormonally supported cycle for improving the uterine lining.

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How is the freezing of the embryo done?

Embryo freezing or cryopreservation is usually done at the blastocyst stage, on the fifth or sixth day of embryo development. Usually, a technique known as vitrification is used for this purpose. The process of vitrification involves the embryo being rapidly frozen to enter a glass-like state. The survival rate of embryos is more than 95%. The rate of pregnancy resulting from the use of frozen embryo is also great.

How long may the embryos be stored?

The process of embryo freezing has been performed for almost 40 years. There isn’t an exact known time for which the embryos can be frozen safely. However, there have been cases when pregnancy has been achieved even after the embryo was kept frozen for ten years. In all likeliness, it is possible to store embryos indefinitely.

When can I do a cycle of frozen embryo transfer?

You may opt to undergo a frozen embryo transfer cycle after an IVF cycle with the use of fresh embryo transfer was unsuccessful. If you have chosen to freeze the embryo, you can use it for future pregnancy. Hence, a frozen embryo transfer cycle may be used even after the previous IVF cycle with fresh embryo transfer resulted in a successful pregnancy.

What if I decide to no longer store my frozen embryos?

If you no longer desire to store your frozen embryos, you have several options. In an ideal scenario, you can use them in a frozen embryo transfer cycle. If you decide on not having any future children, you can donate the frozen embryo to other couples wanting to have a baby. Another alternative option you have is to donate the frozen embryos for scientific research. Otherwise, frozen embryos may even be discarded as medical waste.

What is the success rate of frozen embryo transfer?

Studies conducted recently found that pregnancies resulting from frozen embryo transfer had better neonatal outcomes with longer gestational ages and higher birth weights for babies. Hence, it is safe to assume that the use of frozen embryo transfer cycles is at least as safe as using fresh embryo, if not better.

The success rate of frozen embryo transfer cycle is comparable to that of fresh IVF cycles. Factors like optimization of the uterine lining before implantation may even result in a better rate of success with frozen embryos. The primary success indicators are the same in both frozen and fresh IVF cycles, including the age of the woman when the embryo was frozen. A lot of patients wait for several years to attempt an IVF cycle after initially freezing their embryos. The time between embryo freezing and embryo thawing shouldn’t be a matter of concern. The potential for success with a frozen embryo transfer cycle is the same as that of a fresh IVF cycle.

The rate of pregnancy per frozen embryo transfer is 60% in women aged 35 or younger. As the age of the woman at the time of freezing increases, the pregnancy rate decreases.

Is frozen embryo transfer beneficial over a fresh IVF cycle?

Apart from the lower cost involved, a frozen embryo transfer cycle offers benefits like

Less stress: As compared to fresh IVF cycles, frozen embryo transfer cycles are known to be less stressful, mainly due to the absence of factors like a response to ovarian stimulation, development of egg and growth of the embryo. Freezing high-quality embryos significantly improve the chances of success with frozen embryo transfer cycle.
Less medication: Rather than ovarian stimulation medication, you would need to use progesterone and oestrogen for thickening the uterine lining to prepare it for embryo transfer and allow implantation. The ovarian stimulation is performed in the previous cycle, so egg retrieval isn’t needed with the use of anaesthesia.
When there are fewer cycle cancellations, cycles end up being more predictable. You can choose the day of transfer in advance, allowing us to then determine the date of cycle initiation.

What to expect when I start a frozen embryo transfer cycle?

If you are willing to undergo frozen embryo transfer, contact us and set an appointment with our doctors to discuss a potential frozen embryo transfer cycle. We will review your records for any necessary screening and medical testing. You will have to take progesterone and oestrogen to prepare for the cycle until the blood pregnancy test is performed.