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What Is A Frozen Embryo Cycle “FET” And Why Should I Consider It?

At Monterey Bay IVF, we routinely have patients who undergo a Frozen Embryo Cycle or FET. How this happens and why:

For example, while undergoing In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), a predetermined number of quality embryos are normally transferred directly to the woman’s uterus in a fresh cycle. If there were any embryos left over, they can be considered for cryopreservation for one or more future Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET) procedures.

The success of FET has increased over the past few years making it a viable option for the woman who has frozen her embryos, before moving on to another fresh IVF cycle. If a woman fails to get pregnant with her fresh cycle, she can then schedule a less expensive frozen cycle, thereby not only saving her the expense of another fresh IVF cycle but allowing her time to relax. Even if the fresh IVF cycle is successful, a couple can undergo a FET in the future when they decide to have more children. The frozen embryos are stored in special dewars until the patient makes that decision (there is a long-term embryo storage fee involved).

Other reasons why FET can be an optimal choice for our patients: Often, five or six day blastocyst -stage embryos are of high quality when they are frozen for a future FET cycle. Recent research shows that the success rate of an FET cycle can sometimes be higher because of the opportunity to optimize the lining of the uterus before transfer and implantation, among other reasons. Still, the maternal age at the time of embryo freezing is the prime indicator of success.  Any patient, no matter how much time has elapsed between embryo freezing and thawing, can expect the same percentage of success depending on their age at the time of the fresh IVF cycle.  This rate declines as the maternal age at the time of the freeze increases.

Keep in mind that the chances of having embryos available to freeze largely depends on the woman’s age, those who are 35 years or younger having a higher chance than women over the age of 40.

To summarize, what are the benefits of a Frozen Embryo Cycle over a fresh IVF cycle?

Cost effective. Since the stimulation and egg retrieval were done in the previous IVF cycle, there is no anesthesia or fee for anesthesia. Patients use less medication, only estrogen and progesterone in order to thicken the lining of their uterus in preparation for the embryo transfer to allow implantation.

These cycles are also less stressful because there is no need for stimulation, egg development or embryo culturing since these were accomplished during the fresh cycle. Monterey Bay IVF only freezes high quality blastocyst-stage embryos, giving our patients a significant chance of success with their FET cycle. The patient can select when she wants to initiate her transfer as well.

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