What is a frozen embryo transfer?
A frozen embryo transfer (FET) is a cycle where a frozen embryo from a previous fresh IVF cycle is thawed and transferred back into a woman's uterus. This means you won't have to undergo another cycle of hormone stimulation and egg collection.
Freezing embryos, also known as cryopreservation, takes place for some 60% of all patients having IVF treatment – and frozen embryo transfers accounts for around 50% of all IVF births in our program.
Why do we freeze embryos?
Embryo freezing gives you more opportunities for a pregnancy for each hormone stimulation cycle and egg collection.
During a fresh IVF cycle, we’ll sometimes be able to create more than one embryo, however there are serious risks associated with multiple pregnancies, so generally we won’t transfer more than one embryo at a time. We’ll usually recommend transferring one, and freezing the others. If you do not become pregnant in that first cycle, we can transfer another embryo during a frozen embryo transfer cycle.
A frozen embryo transfer is eligible for a Medicare rebate and you can find the estimated out of pocket cost on our IVF treatment costs page.
Where are the frozen embryos stored and what is the cost?
When you go through an IVF treatment cycle any excess embryos will be stored at an IVFAustralia facility, where they will be kept frozen in cryostorage until you decide to either use, donate or discard them.
This service is available at an initial cost of $450, which includes a freezing fee and the first six months of storage. Every subsequent six month period or part thereof, attracts a fee of $250.
How does embryo freezing work?
Embryos can be frozen from Day 2 (four cell stage) to Day 5 (Blastocyst). They are placed in thin plastic straws, sealed at both ends, and labelled with your name and identification number.
They then go into a freezing machine, where the temperature rapidly drops to -150° Celsius. The straws are then placed in goblets, and put into tanks filled with liquid nitrogen, which keeps the temperature at -196° Celsius.
Success rates with frozen embryos
At IVFAustralia, many of our births, over many years, have come from the transfer of frozen and thawed embryos. On average the success rate is about 30%, but this mainly depends on the age of the woman’s eggs when the embryos are frozen.
So, if you were to freeze your embryos in your first IVF cycle at the age of 38, and then use them when you’re 42, your fertility chance will be relative to that of a 38-year-old woman rather than a 42-year-old.
What to do with any remaining embryos?
Once you feel that your family is complete, and you have no further personal use for your frozen embryos, you may decide to donate them to another couple who are unable to conceive with their own embryos. Your specialist can discuss all your options with you. Visit our embryo donation page to find out more...
Freezing embryos for fertility preservation
If you or your partner is undergoing fertility treatment for a serious illness or cancer you might consider freezing embryos for future pregnancy attempts. Find out more about fertility preservation....
Want more information?
To find out more about embryo freezing or frozen embryo transfers, please come to a free information evening, call our information line on 1800 111 483 or book an appointment with a fertility specialist.
Appointments are available within the next couple of weeks and will cost approximately $150 for a couple after the Medicare rebate.