Fresh OR Frozen Embryo Transfer?

In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a viable option for an individual or couple struggling with fertility. There are a lot of decisions hopeful parents must make during the process. One common but crucial factor is choosing a fresh or frozen embryo transfer (FET). Fresh embryos are created and implanted within the same cycle. Frozen embryo transfers are often additional mature embryos that are cryopreserved for later use. Then, the embryo is thawed and implanted. Most people believe that fresh equals better. However, there are 3 great benefits to FET.

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1. Avoiding OHSS

During each cycle of IVF, women take a series of hormone medications to increase egg production, specifically injectable gonadotropins. This process raises the risk of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS). OHSS occurs when there is too much human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), causing the ovaries to become enlarged. Excess fluid leaks into the abdomen, leading to pain, bloating, nausea, and other symptoms. OHSS requires immediate treatment to prevent severe consequences. Frozen embryos help by reducing or removing the need for hCG and avoiding OHSS.

2. More time for genetic testing

Avoiding OHSS is not the only benefit of frozen embryo transfer. FET also helps with genetic testing. Some patients experience multiple failed IVF cycles or miscarriages, often caused by an underlying genetic anomaly. The fertility clinic can perform genetic testing on frozen embryos to find the best viable option. The fertility clinic takes a sample to review under a microscope. The lab can discover hundreds of possible genetic conditions causing IVF failure through preimplantation genetic screening. These include common conditions like sickle cell anemia, cystic fibrosis, and Tay-Sachs disease. This simple step significantly improves the chances of success.

3. Avoiding complications

Frozen embryo transfer may have a higher chance of success than fresh embryo transfer. Fresh embryos may have a risk of low birth weight and preterm labor. The doctor will need to implant the embryos in a specific window. However, IVF medication may create unstable conditions within the uterus, increasing the chances of complications. Frozen embryos also allow women or couples to try elective single embryo transfer (eSET). This step reduces the chance of multiples or complications with pregnancy and birth. FET also gives the uterus some additional time to return to a healthier state, decreasing complications.

A safer, better IVF cycle

IVF is effective with both fresh and frozen embryos. FET, however, has a range of benefits. Thanks to convenience, success rates, and avoiding OHSS, frozen embryos are becoming a more popular option. Frozen embryo transfers are also a cost-effective option for IVF. The IVF process can be expensive. With FET, patients do not have to cover the cost of extracting and fertilizing new embryos. Frozen embryos offer multiple options, multiple attempts, and fewer complications for the patient.

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