Frozen embryo transfer (FET) is a fertility treatment option that involves embryos from a previous IVF cycle, (a woman’s own IVF or from a donor) or sometimes involves the use of a laboratory to fertilize a donor egg with sperm prior to growth and embryo freezing.
With advances in medical technology, frozen embryos now have the ability to remain viable for over 10 years..
Frozen embryos are preferred by many clinics due to greater success rates over fresh embryo transfers, partly due to the effects of ovary stimulation medications (used to prepare for egg retrieval for IVF or INVOcell) on the uterus. Studies have also shown that pregnancies and babies from frozen (versus fresh) transfers are typically healthier overall, with a lower risk of stillbirth, preterm birth, or low birth rate.
The cost of the FET procedure itself is anywhere between $3,000 and $5,000 USD, depending on the fertility clinic and not including medication or donor embryo(s) or donor sperm and eggs.
Some women are able to go through FET after a failed IVF cycle, if there are embryos or eggs remaining that were cryopreserved. However, FET is also possible through donor options: embryo adoption, or a combination of sperm and egg donors.
For embryo adoption, you may be able to find a clinic that offers embryo adoptions in-house. However, for most women it requires finding an embryo to “adopt” from another woman who went through IVF and had her remaining embryos cryopreserved, but no longer has need of them. There are organizations and companies that will assist in the search, which can be found online and through fertility clinic recommendations. For sperm and egg donors, once the sperm and eggs have been secured it is a simple process of fertilization
Leading up to FET
In order to prepare for your treatment, your fertility clinic will order a series of blood work to determine course of action to help get your body prepared. It is possible that your insurance will cover such testing, if it is performed by an in-network lab. It is also possible, if you are using a fertility clinic but live several hours away, to coordinate some of the testing and monitoring efforts with your OB/GYN office.
FET, IVF, INVOcell and sometimes IUI procedures all require hormone medication in order to prepare the body for the procedures and those medications come in the form of self-administered injectables. Typically, you will need to inject medications for up to 10 days but some clinics may have their patients inject for longer periods of time both before and after your procedure. While the injections beforehand are designed to enhance ovulation, progesterone injections may be prescribed afterwards in order to aid implantation and help prevent miscarriage.
Usually, the injection sites are either in the belly or front of your thigh and while this may sound too difficult to tackle on your own, it is often not nearly as traumatic as it is imagined it to be. If you notice unusual symptoms (redness, bruising, irritation, etc) near the injection areas, contact your fertility clinic for advice; if that happens and you are using more than one medication at a time, your clinic may ask you to inject each medication into a separate location so you can identify exactly which medication is causing the reaction.
What to expect during FET
To prepare you for FET on transfer day, the doctor will administer mild pain medication and/or a mild sedative. A long, flexible tube will then be inserted through the cervix into the uterus to transfer the embryo(s) into your uterus.
If the procedure was successful, an embryo will implant into the uterus within 10 days after egg retrieval day.
What to expect after FET
As with all other fertility treatment options, you may experience cramping after FET and this is completely normal. It is best to take it easy for the remainder of the embryo transfer day. From this point onward, it is best to behave as though you are already pregnant: eat well, pamper yourself, and avoid extreme temperatures and strenuous activities (light exercise is good, but avoid HIIT and stop if you feel discomfort or pain, avoid raising your core body temperature and keep your heart rate under 140).
Your fertility clinic may want to monitor you further, but typically clinics only need to be notified if the procedure was a success (after being confirmed by a BETA test performed by your physician or OB/GYN). Find out what to expect during the two week wait (tww)!
SingleMomsByChoice.org is run by single moms by choice for single moms by choice, dedicated to helping educate, enlighten and empower women who are thinking about or who have decided to have a child “on their own” through donor insemination, egg or embryo donation, adoption or other assisted means.