Couples consider frozen embryo transfer (FET) for a variety of reasons. The decision to choose this procedure in the hopes of starting a family is personal. Although there is still some lingering stigma associated with IVF more than four decades after the first successful live birth, today there are hundreds of thousands of babies born each year thanks to the research that began on non-human mammals in 1878. And, if you ask men and women who cannot have a natural birth why they support frozen embryo transfer, many will tell you that having a baby is a privilege that all couples should have access to.
The following questions and answers will help people start a conversation with their partner or fertility specialist about FET options.
Who is a good candidate for frozen embryo transfer?
At our Melbourne FL Viera Fertility Center we hear many emotional stories. Both men and women come to us with fertility challenges stemming from childhood diseases or surgeries that prevent natural conception. Some patients are preparing to undergo chemotherapy and want to be sure they have an opportunity to conceive and start a family in the future when they are cancer-free. Still others want to make sure they have extra embryos in storage if the first, or second, IVF procedures doesn’t work. The best candidates for frozen embryo transfer are those who have weighed all the options available, and made an informed decision based on their personal health and life circumstances.
Do frozen embryos reduce the chances of achieving a successful pregnancy?
Success rates depend on a number of factors, and there is a healthy debate among fertility specialists whether fresh embryos or frozen embryos present better outcomes. An article published by Medical Xpress goes into more detail, but two quotes from lead authors in a recent study demonstrate why there patients should consider both options.
“From the patient perspective, if they can go ahead and do a fresh transfer it saves them the additional waiting and having to take another cycle of hormones (and) freezing also can lead to another one or two months of waiting and not knowing whether the procedure will be successful, which can be emotionally draining for patients. From these data, it doesn’t look like there is any benefit to waiting.” – Kelly Acharya, M.D., a fellow in reproductive endocrinology and fertility at Duke
“In the past five years, some clinics have advocated for freezing everything with the belief that the process that stimulated the eggs makes the lining of the uterus less welcoming for pregnancy . . . Some research has also indicated frozen embryo transfers are less likely to result in preterm labor and underweight babies” –
Dr. Suheil Muasher, MD, reproductive endocrinology and infertility specialist at Duke
Statistically the odds don’t heavily favor fresh or frozen embryo transfer. The study shows a slight advantage for women who produce 15 or more eggs after hormone stimulation. “Birth rates for these so-called ‘high responders’ who received frozen embryos were slightly higher (52 percent) than those who received fresh transfers (48 percent).”
It may also depend on whether the male partner is a candidate for Microscopic Testicular Sperm Harvesting due to obstructive Azoospermia, low sperm count or centriole deficiencies that may be affecting natural fertilization.
Is FET right for your family?
There is no one-size-fits-all fertility program that works for every family. Underlying medical conditions, age, lifestyle and finances all drive decisions about IVF and other assistive reproductive services. Some patients have religious-based concerns about disposal of viable embryos, while others simply cannot stand the thought of “wasting” an opportunity to make future pregnancy attempts possible. Like all life-altering decisions, deciding if FET is right for your family is personal, and you should discuss your concerns openly with your fertility doctor.
The first step in finding the best-fit solution for each couple is to see an experienced reproductive specialist. The Viera Fertility Center is accepting new patients, and we invite you to schedule an appointment today.
Learn more about FET from Science Daily