Saturday, February 28, 2015

What’s Lies in Store for My Stored Frozen Embryos?

Infertile couples are aware about the fact that their embryos can be frozen to increase the chances of IVF success. The embryo freezing process is simple. Unused embryos are frozen & stored in a tank-full of liquid nitrogen at -196° Celsius. During this freezing process, cryoprotectant is added to protect the embryos . In a good IVF clinic, practically all embryos will survive the freezing and thawing process ; and the pregnancy rate with vitrified embryos is as high as with fresh embryos

The Moment of Truth

This is why , if your first cycle is unsuccessful, the IVF doctor will advise that you can transfer the frozen embryos during the next cycle. These embryos can also be used for IVF cycles in the future, if you want to add another baby to your family. But many patients also wonder what happens to the spare embryos that are left over , in case they choose not to transfer them .

Most patients feel that they will not be too bothered about discarding their leftover embryos, once they have had the baby they wanted. After all, now that their family is complete, why should they care ? But when the first bill for the renewal of the embryo storage comes in from the IVF lab, patients realise that’s it not easy to abandon their embryos so easily.  After all, their embies are potential babies, and they have bonded with them once they have seen their photos .

The Options

Couples who have frozen their embryos and will not be using them for their own IVF cycles have a number of options available to them:

•    Continue Storing - You can continue paying for them and keep them frozen and stored for an indefinite period of time. But the truth is that storing fees for frozen embryos can be quite steep , and many couples do not find it to be a financially viable option.  This is especially true because  couples that now have children also have  to focus  on balancing their family budget.

•    Donate- You have the option to donate the embryos to other infertile couples. It can be hard to do this, because people can be quite possessive about their genes ! You may feel you are handing over your future baby to someone else, and you may worry about how well this future baby will be looked after.

If you are not going to be using your embryos, donating them to someone who needs them is a generous thing to do - you are gifting someone parenthood , which as you know from personal experience, can be one of the most cherished gifts someone can receive. However, this decision can be quite an emotionally draining one, because the donation is anonymous and confidential, so don’t minimize the impact. You may have nightmares and fantasies as to what’s happening to your other “babies” out there somewhere in the world. Do remember that infertile couples make great parents, and your embryos will be treasured by whoever is fortunate to receive them.

•    Donating to Medical Research- If you feel that you cannot handle the thought of your biological children being brought up by someone other than you, donating to medical research is another option. These embryos  can be used in stem-cell research for example, and can help to save lives by advancing medical science.

•    Thaw and Discard the Embryos- This is probably the most difficult choice of all. You can choose to thaw the stored, frozen embryos, which means they will no longer be viable. This is one option you will have to discuss with your IVF clinic in advance to check what is permitted and what isn’t. In most cases, patients choose to discontinue renewing their embryo storage; they just prefer that the clinic handle it for them.  Others opt to become involved , and want to be present when the thawing process takes place

 A Personal Choice

The decision about what a couple chooses to do with the frozen embryos is a very personal one , and is based on various factors. Please take all these into consideration before you make your final decision.

Need more information? Please send me your medical details by filling in the form at so that I can guide you better!

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