How Does the Frozen Embryo Transfer Procedure Work?

If you have frozen embryos from a previous IVF cycle, they can be used rather than fresh eggs in a future IVF cycle. Frozen embryo transfer cycles are somewhat similar to fresh IVF cycles, except that ovarian stimulation and egg retrieval are not necessary.

Hormonal Preparation

Three types of fertility medication are used to prepare the uterus for a frozen embryo transfer. The timeline for these medications is much more flexible since no egg retrieval is necessary, which makes this type of cycle less stressful for couples. The three medications used for hormonal preparation are:

  • Lupron
  • Estrogen
  • Progesterone

Frozen Embryo Transfer Procedure

At IVF1, we freeze embryos when they reach the blastocyst stage, at 5 days after fertilization. When the embryos are thawed, they are ready to be transferred to the woman’s uterus the same day. The lining of the uterus must match the stage of the embryo, so progesterone must be administered for 5-6 days prior to the embryo transfer. At IVF1, we start progesterone on Sundays and do the embryo transfer on Thursdays.

The procedure for frozen embryo transfer is similar to the procedure for fresh embryo transfer. First, the embryos are thawed. Next, the doctor loads a catheter with the embryos. Transvaginal ultrasound is used to guide the placement of the catheter through the cervix and into the uterus. In cases where it is too difficult to pass through the cervix, embryo transfer may be performed through incisions in the abdomen (though this technique is rarely needed).

Once the catheter tip is in place, the embryologist deposits the embryos into the uterus. The doctor removes the catheter, then inspects it to ensure that all of the embryos were actually deposited.

Frozen embryo transfer is performed in an outpatient setting, so you can return home the same day. You do not need anesthesia for embryo transfer. The discomfort level is about that of a PAP smear. Your partner may be in the procedure with you.

After the Procedure

You can return home after the procedure is finished, You can return to most normal activities, including exercise and work, as soon as you feel comfortable doing so. However, many women prefer to rest for the remainder of the day. There is no evidence that this increases the chance for pregnancy.

After the procedure, it is important that you continue to take estrogen and progesterone until your doctor tells you otherwise, even if you believe that you are not pregnant. Progesterone will be taken until the 11th week of pregnancy to prevent miscarriage.

Dr. Randy Morris would be happy to meet with you about your fertility. To schedule your consultation today, please click below and enter your information or call IVF1 at (630) 357-6540.

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