1. Extending the Pregnancy Potential from One Fresh IVF Cycle
Patients that have high-quality blastocyst stage embryos that are not transferred during a fresh (or stimulated) IVF or donor egg cycle have the option of freezing the embryos for use in subsequent cycles. These cycles are known as frozen embryo transfers or more commonly referred to as FET cycles.
During a FET cycle, previously frozen embryos will be thawed and then transferred into the woman’s uterus.
2. FROZEN EMBRYO TRANSFERS ARE EASIER TO UNDERGO THAN FRESH IVF CYCLES
Patients starting a frozen embryo transfer cycle will instantly notice the differences between this cycle and a previous fresh IVF cycle.
Less time commitment – Unlike a fresh IVF cycle, there is no stimulation of the ovaries to produce multiple eggs during a FET cycle and there are less appointments needed. In fact, there are only three appointments associated with a FET cycle.
- Baseline Check – At the first appointment, there is a intravaginal ultrasound to to measure the uterine lining at the start of the cycle.
- Lining Check – A few days prior to the scheduled transfer the uterine lining is checked again. The physician will be looking for a thick “fluffy” lining, the perfect place for an embryo to implant and develop into a pregnancy.
- Embryo Transfer – On the day of the transfer, the frozen embryos will be thawed at one of our three IVF Laboratories. This is the same procedure a patient would have with a fresh IVF or donor egg cycle which does not require sedation or medication.
More predictable – A nice benefit with frozen embryo transfers is that they are easily planned and rarely deviate from the original protocol. Most of the changes associated with a fresh IVF cycle center around the stimulation phase. Is there over or under stimulation of the ovaries? Should medications be adjusted? Since stimulation is not required in a FET cycle, timing is very predictable and easily planned from start to finish.
Prior to the the embryo transfer, the medication given, usually estrogen and progesterone in oil, is used to help prepare and thicken the uterine lining. The medication dosage remains the same throughout the cycle.
3. FET Cycles are a Fraction of the Cost of a Fresh IVF Cycle
Arguably, one of the best benefits of a FET cycles is the cost. Frozen embryo transfers are all around a less invasive option and require far fewer appointments reducing the cost of treatment. FET cycle fees are about a third of the cost of a stimulated IVF cycle, and the medications are as little as 10% of the cost of a stimulated IVF cycle, ranging from $400-$800 dollars. Often times, patients with insurance coverage for fertility treatment will also have some level of coverage from medications.
Shady Grove Fertility has several financial programs to help reduce the cost of FET cycles even further, including Shared Risk 100% Refund and Multi-Cycle Treatment Discount; both programs include the costs associated with an FET cycle in the program fee.
SGF now offers Shared Risk 100% Refund Guarantee for FETs. This program offers the same piece of mind thousands of patients have had with the traditional Shared Risk 100% Refund for IVF or Donor Egg Program – a baby born or a 100% refund. Patients with remaining embryos from a previous treatment cycle, that meet the eligibility criteria; now have the option to guarantee their success with subsequent FET cycles.
Current patients should contact their financial counselor to learn more about this program.
4. Frozen Embryo Transfers Offer Nearly Identical Success Rates to a Fresh IVF Cycle
Recent advances in embryo freezing technology, primarily using the vitrication, have vastly improved the success rates of FET cycles in recent years. Neither patients nor physicians want to undergo unnecessary treatment, so only high-quality bastocyst stage embryos are selected to freeze, which contributes to the significant improvement in the success rates. FET cycles completed with the vitrification freezing technique have pregnancy rates nearly identical to that experienced with a fresh in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycle.
5. Freeze All Cycles May Improve Your Chances of Pregnancy
In 2012, a meta analysis study was published suggesting a correlation between increased hormone levels, such as progesterone, in a woman’s body and a decrease in resulting implantation and pregnancy rates. The physicians at Shady Grove Fertility took a retrospective look at our own patients’ results which confirmed this phenomenon.
In simple terms, if hormone levels are too far above what is expected during a natural (unstimulated) menstrual cycle, freezing all resulting embryos and transferring them after hormone levels are allowed to return to normal, will give the embryos the best chances of resulting in a pregnancy.
If at the end of an IVF cycle, your hormone levels are high, your physician may recommend this freeze all approach. Eggs will be harvested, embryos formed and then frozen. In most cases, the transfer occurs in the following menstrual cycle the next month.
The final decision to move forward with a fresh transfer or freeze all of the embryos is ultimately made by the patients in consultation with their physician.
6. FROZEN EMBRYOS DON’T HAVE AN EXPIRATION DATE
Whether waiting a few months before starting the next cycle or a couple years between baby number one and number two, you can feel confident that the embryos will remain as strong as the day they were frozen. With vitrification, frozen embryos and eggs are suspended in time allowing patients to take the time they need between cycles.
No aging occurs while eggs or embryos are in a vitrified state and are believed to remain the same quality indefinitely. This is an added benefit for patients waiting multiple years between their freeze and transfer – the success rate associated with the embryos frozen when a women is 35 will remain the same even if her transfer doesn’t occur for several years.
With that said, it is not suggested that patients in their late 30s or 40s wait too long. Should the FET cycles not be successful, patients will need to complete another stimulated cycle to obtain additional eggs. While the previously retrieved and frozen eggs are not aging, those still in the ovaries that are yet to be retrieved are. It is important to note, Shady Grove Fertility’s cut off age for treatment is 50 years and 11 months.
If you would like to schedule an appointment with a fertility specialist, please speak with one of our New Patient Liaisons at 877-971-7755.