The Frozen Embryo Transfer is the procedure that is performed with the embryos which have not been transferred while performing the IVF cycles but instead, they were preserved by freezing. In this method, the frozen embryos are thawed out and then inserted into the reasonably primed uterus to develop a successful pregnancy.
To ensure that this procedure will be completed viably, it is essential that the woman’s uterine cavity is in good health and ready to accept the embryos. There is a little process through which the fertility expert checks out the uterine cavity. These processes are:
- Through HGSG method, the x-ray is infused into the uterus and the cavity can be seen with the x-rays.
- Through Hysterosonogram, the saline is infused into the uterus and with the ultrasound, the cavity becomes visible.
- Through Hysteroscopy, a fiber-optic camera is inserted into the uterine cavity to inspect its health & readiness for an embryo.
If there are any issues with the uterine cavity, then the surgery is performed prior to performing the frozen embryo transfer process. The existence of polyps, for example, is one such scenario that may require surgery to remove them prior to proceeding with the frozen embryo transfer. There are also times you will have to take birth control to stabilize your cycle.
The frozen embryo transfer protocol:
In the frozen embryo transfer protocol, the most common method is to utilize the hormones for setting up the uterus. To decrease the probability of unexpected ovulation, it is mandatory to subdue the pituitary gland. For subduing the pituitary gland, a drug called Lupron is used most commonly. The Lupron injections are usually provided daily for two weeks.
Moving onto the second stage of the frozen embryo transfer protocol, the hormones are utilized to replicate the alterations which are commonly observed in the uterus during the normal periodic cycle. The estrogen and progesterone are the two hormone medicines which are utilized in this process.
Preparing estrogen for the frozen embryo transfer:
The estrogen is used to increases and build up a profuse lining of the uterus. When the normal period’s cycle is occurring, the estrogen is produced by the growing follicles. This is the reason that estrogen is given as a medicine while perfuming the FET procedure. The estrogen is given through estrogen injections, pills, vaginal estrogen and estrogen patching. The pill method is very feasible, cost effective, and contains no pain. Usually, the particular estrogen methods are chosen by the physician based on certain success metrics and the body’s response.
When the estrogen is provided to the woman, she has to visit the clinic periodically so that her ultrasound and blood test could be performed to determine the presence of estrogen in it. The schedule for the estrogen supplements, regardless of delivery method, are very adaptable so they can be adjusted as per the patient’s feasibility.
Adding progesterone in the FET process:
In the frozen embryo transfer, progesterone is included once the uterus is thickened. The doses of Lupron are stopped when the uterus reaches a level of thickness that the doctor determines is sufficient for what we hope will be an upcoming pregnancy. The uterine lining strengthens and becomes ready to accept the frozen embryo transfer implantation. When the progesterone is started, it becomes essential to include the embryo otherwise the patients have to go through the process of hormones from the beginning. The progesterone is given by method of injections, pills, vaginal gels and vaginal suppositories. The medical field has not yet decided on which form of progesterone is most suitable for all patients. It again depends upon the situation of the patient to determine the best method for her, however many physicians have concluded that the pill version is not as reliable.
Performing frozen embryo transfer during the normal menstrual cycle:
When the woman is in her natural menstrual cycle, then it becomes easy to perform the frozen embryo transfer protocol devoid of using any hormone setup. According to the research, the frozen embryo transfer success rates of pregnancy are as equal as they are in the natural menstrual cycle. Though, the cycles get tough to keep track of and perform synchronously. It should be noted that in the frozen embryo method, the hormone dosage is rather nearer to the natural numbers as compared to the IVF method, the hormonal levels are higher.
The frozen embryo transfer step:
As the embryo is maturing, it will remain in the lab for up to 6 days. The fertility expert maintains the record of their fertility with the frozen embryo transfer calendar. It is best to preserve the embryo at the very first stage as it gets fertilized so that it will lead to higher survival rates. Even the unpreserved embryo has been treated in the same way in the lab as the frozen embryo would be. The physicians cannot determine how many days will be required for the embryos to reach the development stage and for that reason, it is recommended to have more than one embryo thawed and transferred. However, with more embryos, multiple pregnancies could happen so this is something that needs to be managed very carefully. When the embryo is developed for anywhere between three to five days, it is then preserved and that is known as the cleavage level. But, the chances of development are not that viable in this sort of preservation.
The frozen embryo success stories are shown in the numbers. Many physicians will confidently say in the beginning of the process that they will get their patients pregnant but it is just a matter of the right combination of hormones supplements, IVF process, egg donation, frozen embryo transfer timeline and more. There are many variables to consider and often times the medical team needs to simply find the right combination of those variables in order to succeed. Even after the age of 35, the success stories have said that there are still chances of women becoming pregnant through a frozen embryo transfer.
When the research was taking place on the pregnancy rates through frozen embryos, the researcher found that there is no doubt you can get pregnant with the frozen embryos. Even if the embryos are frozen for ten years, they will still be viable. The physicians transfer the best embryos at the very start so that the chances of pregnancy are higher. The poor embryos do not have those higher rates of pregnancy and most likely will not make it through the freezing process anyway.
The study has shown that the babies born with the frozen embryo transfer still have good size / weight and overall good health. This method has been determined to be very safe and no abnormalities were shown regularly or as a direct connection to the frozen embryo transfer itself. In some FET cases, the pregnancy resulted in multiple pregnancies as well.
The cost of this method varies from area to area and it always recommended consulting with the physicians who is reliable, offers you the best solution and who you connect with the best.