What You Can Expect - Breaking Down the Frozen Embryo Transfer Protocol

Dr. Randy Morris

What You Can Expect - Breaking Down the Frozen Embryo Transfer Protocol

Dr. Randy Morris

If you have frozen embryos that you intend to use to get pregnant, understanding the frozen embryo transfer protocol can help you know what to expect during the cycle. The frozen embryo transfer process is fairly similar to a full IVF cycle, but the medication protocol is different and there is no need for egg retrieval or ovarian stimulation. Below, we will take a look at what you can expect during the frozen embryo transfer protocol.

The Frozen Embryo Transfer Protocol


Lupron injections are given to suppress the pituitary gland, so that unexpected ovulation does not occur. Most women go through about two weeks of daily Lupron injections to achieve the desired effect. Lupron is injected subcutaneously, into the fatty tissue that lies under the skin. Then, estrogen and progesterone are used to replicate the changes to the uterine lining that would occur during a normal menstrual cycle.


Estrogen acts on the uterus, causing the uterine lining to thicken and mature. Estrogen is effective in pill form, which makes it easy and inexpensive to take. Estrogen is very well tolerated by the majority of patients. Periodically, the woman comes to the office to have a transvaginal ultrasound to determine how well the uterine lining is developing, and estrogen blood levels are taken. The amount of time estrogen is taken for can be flexible, and adjusted based on the needs of the patient.


Once the uterine lining has thickened, progesterone is given to mature the uterine lining, so that it is ready to receive an embryo. When progesterone is started, Lupron is discontinued. Once the progesterone begins, the frozen embryo transfer must be performed within a certain window of time. This is the part of the frozen embryo transfer protocol that is most time-sensitive. At IVF1, we give progesterone both intramuscularly and vaginally to ensure that the progesterone is fully absorbed by the body. Our protocol is to start progesterone on a Sunday and transfer the embryos on a Thursday afternoon.

The Transfer

The frozen embryo transfer itself is the same as the embryo transfer procedure performed during a typical IVF cycle. Once the embryo is thawed, it is inspected to ensure that it is suitable for transfer. Then, the embryo is loaded into a catheter, which is placed through the cervix into the uterus. Finally, the doctor deposits the embryos in the uterus. If the embryos implant in the uterine lining, pregnancy occurs. Dr. Randy Morris would be happy to meet with you about whether embryo freezing is right for you. To schedule your consultation today, please click below and enter your information or call IVF1 at (630) 357-6540.