Embryo Freezing and Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET)
After a fresh embryo transfer, good quality surplus embryos and blastocysts created during IVF or ICSI treatment may be frozen and stored for future use. Embryos can be stored at an extremely low temperature (-196˚C) to suspend their development. Once frozen, they can remain in liquid nitrogen for many years without deterioration before being thawed and, if they survive and subsequently develop well, transferred to the woman’s uterus during a frozen embryo transfer (FET).
Freezing good quality embryos offers a chance of conceiving after an unsuccessful fresh embryo transfer, or even several years following a successful transfer and pregnancy.
Legislation determines the time that Midland Fertility, with patient consent, is allowed to store embryos. Currently embryos may be stored initially for 10 years. Under exceptional circumstances, storage may be extended up to 55 years from the date of freezing (to be reviewed every 10 years), if the patient, partner or someone to whom the embryos are allocated is prematurely infertile or likely to become prematurely infertile. Some Midland Fertility patients have had babies more than ten years after their embryos were originally created and frozen.
To be suitable to freeze, embryos must:
- be at the correct developmental stage for the number of days the embryos have been cultured; for example two days after fertilisation an embryo should be four cells
- contain cells which are approximately the same size which indicates regular division
- contain less than 25% fragmentation
- have well defined cellular membranes indicating that they are not undergoing a delicate cellular division at that precise moment
Using thawed frozen embryos gives the possibility of a brother or sister for a patient’s baby from a single cycle of IVF or ICSI treatment – known as a conceptual twin.
Where other clinics may charge an additional fee for embryo storage, the cost of embryo freezing and one year’s storage at Midland Fertility is included in the fees for all IVF and ICSI treatments at Midland Fertility.
Midland Fertility regularly contacts patients to make sure they still wish the clinic to continue storing their embryos and so it is vital that the clinic has a correct address while embryos remain in storage. When the consented period of embryo storage ends, Midland Fertility is legally obliged to remove the embryos from storage unless the patient has contacted Midland Fertility and the storage period has been extended.
Who may benefit from embryo freezing?
- couples who achieve many good quality embryos following egg collection and fertilisation which can be stored for possible future attempts to conceive
- a woman in a relationship about to undergo medical treatment that may make her infertile in the future can have embryos created and frozen before the treatment to give her the chance of having children with her current partner, at a later date
- patients who have had an egg collection for IVF or ICSI treatment, who have been advised not to go ahead with a fresh embryo transfer will have their embryos frozen for use in treatment at a later date
What does FET treatment involve?
- most frozen/thawed embryos are replaced in the uterus which has been prepared using hormone replacement therapy (HRT), to improve the chance of a successful outcome
- where HRT is not recommended for medical reasons, the clinical team may suggest transferring the frozen/thawed embryos in a natural cycle to eliminate the need to take hormone medication
- depending on the number of frozen embryos and the result of the last embryo transfer, the embryologist may recommend allowing the thawed embryos to develop to blastocyst stage before transfer
- before embryos can be frozen, both partners will be asked to complete a form to consent to the storage of the embryos, as required by the HFEA. This consent can be altered or withdrawn at any time if the patients’ circumstances change, for example if a couple separates. If one partner decides to withdraw consent to storage or use of embryos, Midland Fertility has a legal obligation to inform the other partner that the embryos will be removed from storage
- it is essential that both partners advise Midland Fertility immediately of any change in their circumstances or their address while embryos remain in storage
What is included in the cost of a FET?
The initial cost of embryo freezing and one year’s storage is included in the original IVF or ICSI treatment fee. The cost for a FET includes:
- monitoring ultrasound scans
- thawing and monitoring of embryos in the lab
- embryo transfer
- pregnancy test and scan and/or follow-up to review the treatment cycle
What is not included in the cost of a FET?
- follow-up consultation (as appropriate)
- repeat screening (as appropriate)
- IVF or ICSI treatment including egg collection
- cost of fertility drugs, eg hormone drugs
- the HFEA levy for the transfer of embryos
How long does treatment take?
An average of five to eight weeks from the beginning of the treatment cycle to pregnancy test.
Cost of egg retrieval using IVF and embryo freezing at Midland Fertility: £2,995.00
Cost of egg retrieval using ICSI and embryo freezing at Midland Fertility: £3,595.00
NB The initial cost of embryo freezing and one year’s storage is included in the above treatment fees
Cost of Frozen Embryo Transfer at Midland Fertility: £1,295.00
Cost of storage of embryos, eggs, sperm and sibling sperm (1 year) at Midland Fertility: £200.00
Cost of storage of embryos, eggs, sperm and sibling sperm (3 years) at Midland Fertility: £500.00
Cost of storage of embryos, eggs, sperm and sibling sperm (5 years) at Midland Fertility: £750.00
Go to the Midland Fertility Patient Treatment Information page and download the following infosheets:
- Embryo Freezing
- Embryo Transfer Policy and SET
- Frozen Embryo Transfer
- Blastocyst Transfer
- IVF: In Vitro Fertilisation
- ICSI: Intra Cytoplasmic Sperm Retrieval