As you go through your journey toward growing your family and bringing new life into the world, the world of IVF can seem technical and intimidating, even down to the basics of the process.
Just looking at our site, you might be full of questions. What is Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET)? How is it different from Fresh Embryo Transfer? Why do you stick to a “freeze-all” approach? And how do I know if I’m a candidate?
That’s why we’re here to help answer your questions and more.
What is Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET)?
In any IVF cycle, eggs are first collected from the ovaries. They are fertilized and embryos are created in a laboratory. Finally, they are placed back into the uterus.
In a fresh embryo transfer, the process from retrieval to placement takes three or five days, and occurs within the same stimulated hormonal cycle. In a frozen embryo transfer, the embryo is frozen after fertilization and can be created some time before placement into the uterus, potentially even years before.
Fresh embryo transfers usually take advantage of the body’s natural cycle to encourage the fertilized egg to implant into the endometrium. In frozen embryo transfers, estrogen supplementation is needed. However, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, the likelihood of getting pregnant is higher with frozen embryo transfer following a stimulated IVF cycle.
If you’d like more information about the different types of frozen embryo transfer that we offer at Dominion, we expand on that topic in this blog.
What are the advantages of FET?
At Dominion, we only use the frozen embryo transfer method. Why? Because it optimizes successful outcomes, reduces complications, and gives you more control over your pregnancy.
The outcomes are better for three major reasons. The first is hormone levels induced by a stimulated cycle can make the uterus less receptive to implantation. In a frozen embryo transfer, your hormone levels are better balanced.
Second, those same stimulated cycles cause an increased risk of Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS). Mild to moderate OHSS can cause abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, while severe OHSS can lead to rapid weight gain, blood clots, and shortness of breath according to the Mayo Clinic. By freezing embryos and performing the transfer at a later date, we can reduce the risk and severity of OHSS.
Finally, by choosing FET, you can also choose Preimplantation Genetic Screening, or PGS. This means a specialist can take a look at your embryos and only select for transfer those which are genetically normal. That reduces the risk of miscarriage and other pre- and post-pregnancy complications. PGS results take about a week to produce, which means it is not an option in fresh embryo transfers.
Our founder, Dr. Michael DiMattina, dives into the numbers behind those positive outcomes here.
Am I a good candidate for FET?
Frozen embryo transfer is a great choice for many patients. On top of all the advantages noted above, it’s simpler in many respects than a fresh embryo transfer, as it minimizes the number of hormone injections and gives you more control over the timing of your pregnancy.
That said, everyone is different, and the best way to see if this is the best next step on your fertility journey is to talk with an expert. Our compassionate and experienced doctors sit down and design a treatment plan that’s designed based on you and your needs. To take the first step, schedule an appointment. We’re here to help.