Frozen Embryo Transfer Procedure
When using traditional surrogacy, the woman who bears a child is its genetic mother. However, this method isn’t used very often, as there are more legal processes involved.
Today, infertile couples tend to enlist the help of a gestational surrogate. Here, the woman is only a carrier. The egg of either a potential legal mother or a donor can be used for FET IVF treatment. Then, the embryo, which is either fresh or frozen, obtained as a result of fertilization is transferred to the uterus of the surrogate mother.
Reasons for the frozen embryo cycle
A frozen embryo transfer is the process of transferring a frozen embryo to the uteru, allowing pregnancy to start. The embryo is often left from a previous IVF cycle and frozen for further use. You can use this process in the following cases:
- Extra embryos. If you don’t plan to have three or more children at a time, it is recommended to only transfer one, or maximum two embryos during one IVF protocol. If doctors see that a woman is likely to have a successful pregnancy, they may recommend eSET, which is the transfer of only one embryo. However, after fertilization, there may still be several embryos left. These can be used later for repeated IVF cycles, if a couple wishes to become parents again.
- Plans to have more children. If you want to give birth again in a few years, you have two options: use a fresh embryo, or take a frozen one left from a previous procedure. The latter option will often reduce the cost of the procedure.
- Patients that are using PGS and PGD. These tests are used in reproductive medicine to determine, and often lower, the risk of having a child with various genetic conditions. Because these tests take several days to perform, the embryos getting tested are cryopreserved, or frozen.
- Donation. People who have previously been treated with IVF and still have extra embryos can donate them for others to use.
- Postponing of a fresh embryo transfer. If a doctor recommends you postpone the fresh embryo transfer, your embryos will be frozen until they can be used.
- High risk of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome. Occasionally, the use of fertility drugs can lead to undesirable consequences, meaning that an embryo transfer will need to be postponed until symptoms of OHSS disappear.
- Elective procedure. After an egg is retrieved, it is usually frozen for several days. An FET procedure of thawing embryos is carried out once the uterus is ready for implantation without the use of ovarian stimulating drugs.
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Frozen embryo transfer process step-by-step
- Consultation with a specialist. First, a couple who decides to use a surrogate mother’s help are educated about the timeline, success rates, risks, and possible consequences of the process. It’s also important to be aware of the moral, legal, and ethical standpoints. All of this information is provided to parents during their first consultation at our clinic.
The future surrogate mother also receives this information during her first consultation, and is told what tests and examinations she is subject to, as well as the responsibility she takes.
- Endometrial preparation and monitoring. A sonogram is most often used for monitoring. The start of this process is calculated according to the menstrual cycle, and lasts until ovulation is established. After that comes daily LH urine, and depending on the status of this hormone, an embryo transfer will take place.
- Embryo thawing. The process of thawing embryos is scheduled for the same day as an implantation.
- Embryo transfer. As a rule, 1–2 embryos are implanted in one FET transfer cycle. The embryo is implanted into the uterus with the use of a small plastic catheter. This procedure only takes place for a few minutes and doesn’t require anesthesia.
- Pregnancy test. A pregnancy test is carried out 12–14 days after the transfer. If the result is positive, a doctor will prescribe certain hormonal medications for the surrogate mother.
- Pregnancy observation. Three weeks after a confirmation of pregnancy, a vaginal ultrasound is performed. At this stage, it can be determined how many embryos have survived.
Success rates of a FET in IVF
In recent years, the success rate of a frozen embryo transfer procedure has increased significantly due to the continuous development of technology. There have been fewer reported cases of miscarriages and higher rates of successful pregnancies.
In specific figures, the successful pregnancy rate for women under 35 is about 50%.
Frozen embryo transfer cost
Frozen embryo transfer cost is impacted by several factors:
- The cost of all necessary examinations for the surrogate mother, as well as the father and mother, if their sperm and egg are used.
- Any hormonal medications that are used to achieve and maintain pregnancy. In addition to the natural FET cycle, a replacement cycle can also be used, meaning that a woman is additionally injected with estrogen and progesterone.
- Transferring frozen embryos.
The cost of fertility services in America can run very high, and IVF with frozen embryos is no exception. Couples can pay from $3,000 to $5,000 per cycle. And if the process fails, it will be repeated until pregnancy is achieved. Each of these attempts is paid for in full. These additional costs often turn people away from getting help with infertility, as they cannot afford it.
Fortunately, there are countries where surrogacy is legal, reproductive medicine is well-developed, and the prices are lower. One of these countries is Georgia. Besides the fact that IVF and embryo implantation are about half as cheap here, Georgia is also an incredibly beautiful and hospitable country, where family values are emphasized and respected.