If embryos are not used during an initial in vitro fertilization cycle, they can be frozen for later use. When the couple goes through another IVF cycle, the preserved embryos can be thawed and transferred to the uterus. The timeline for a frozen embryo transfer differs from a full IVF cycle.
Frozen Embryo Transfer Timeline
The frozen embryo transfer timeline is much more flexible than a fresh egg cycle timeline. Although the timeline may vary somewhat from case to case, the typical frozen embryo transfer timeline is as follows:
- Pretesting – The doctor may perform a procedure to see whether or not the woman has a normal uterus, so that any abnormalities can be corrected before the cycle. If this procedure has been performed in the past, it will probably not be necessary during the frozen embryo cycle.
- Hormonal preparation of the uterus – Two weeks of daily Lupron injections are typically used to suppress the pituitary gland. Then, estrogen is administered, which helps to thicken and mature the uterine lining. The patient will come to the office regularly so that the uterine readiness can be monitored via transvaginal ultrasound. Finally, progesterone is added and Lupron is halted. Progesterone makes the uterine lining ready to have an embryo implant.
- Embryo thawing and transfer – Embryo thawing and transfer must be timed with the administration of progesterone. At IVF1, progesterone is usually started on Saturday, and the blastocyst is then thawed and transferred on Thursday afternoon.
In some cases, women who have regular menstrual cycles in which ovulation occurs may do a frozen embryo cycle without the use of hormonal medication. However, this type of cycle is much more difficult from a logistical perspective, because the transfer must be precisely timed with the woman’s natural ovulation.
How Frozen Embryo Transfer Works
The embryo transfer itself can be performed in about 15 minutes. A cathether is preloaded with the thawed embryos. Then, the catheter is placed in the uterus under ultrasound guidance. Once the catheter is in place, the embryologists deposits the embryos and removes the catheter. Then, the embryologist will examine the catheter to ensure that all of the embryos were actually deposited in the uterus.
You can return to all of your normal activities, with the exception of swimming, the same day as the transfer, although some women prefer to rest for the day. 7-10 days later, the doctor will perform a blood test to check for pregnancy. If the pregnancy test is positive, the woman will take progesterone until the 11th week of gestation to prevent miscarriage.
Dr. Randy Morris would be happy to meet with you about whether IVF is right for you. To schedule your consultation today, please click below and enter your information or call IVF1 at (630) 357-6540.