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Embryo Freezing

Embryo freezing is a well-established form of assisted conception treatment. An increasing number of IVF clinics worldwide are now able to freeze spare embryos for later transfer. The first frozen embryo baby was born in 1984. Embryo cryopreservation allows multiple embryo transfers from a single egg collection and improves the chances of livebirth.

La Jolla IVF has over 4700 frozen embryos in storage in our Embryology Laboratory. Patients often ask, “For how long can I store my frozen embryos?” Theoretically, frozen embryos are probably viable for at least 10 years and maybe even longer. However, we recommend not storing frozen embryos for longer than five years if the patient intends to use the embryos to attempt to achieve a pregnancy.

La Jolla IVF would like to advise couples who still currently undergoing embryo freezing to seriously consider what would be most appropriate for these embryos besides just leaving them frozen in perpetuity.

Many patients may not be aware of the cost benefits associated with Frozen Embryo Transfer cycles. An FET cycle is a relatively inexpensive treatment being about half to a third of the cost of a regular stimulated IVF cycle. The actual cycle itself is quite benign in preparation, using very little medication to prepare the lining of the uterus only. The actual transfer of the thawed embryos is performed in our office, without anesthesia and is essentially non-invasive. Our doctors advise patients with frozen embryos who would like to use the embryos to attempt pregnancy, to do so sooner rather than later, as we do not yet have adequate data regarding the quality of embryos stored over a lengthy period of time.

We would like to ask patients who have frozen embryos stored in our facility to periodically update us on their designated custodian and to always let us know of a change of address. Patients need to seriously consider other options for their frozen embryos should they have no intention of using the embryos in an FET cycle. Other options for these frozen embryos (with express written consent of the couple) would be donation to another infertile couple, use in research or the embryos could be thawed and disposed of in an ethical fashion. We encourage patients to focus on the fact that a successful embryo cryopreservation program offers patients realistic pregnancy potential from their frozen embryos.