Embryo freezing & storage
During IVF treatment, sometimes more embryos are developed than can be used in a single transfer. Care Fertility offers Embryo Freezing & Storage in case you need another round of treatment, or if you’d like to grow your family in the future.
Could freezing & storing my embryos be right for me?
Embryo freezing & embryo storing is routine at Care, and with the vitrification technique frozen embryos can get great results. You won’t know whether you have embryos available for freezing until you’re well into your treatment cycle, but we’ll discuss the possibility with you before you start treatment.
You might freeze & store your embryos because:
- You’re having IVF treatment and still have some viable embryos left after transfer
- You’re having IVF treatment, but we’ve advised against a fresh transfer at that time
- You’re not ready to have a baby just yet but want to preserve your fertility.
Everyone’s different, and we’ll go through all aspects of your treatment to help you decide exactly what’s right for you.
When you’re ready to use your embryos we’ll remove an embryo from storage and carefully warm it. Then, if it’s good enough quality, we’ll prepare it for transfer.
What does embryo freezing involve?
When you’re going through IVF treatment, once we’ve fertilised your eggs we’ll talk to you regularly about how your embryos are developing, and we’ll let you know whether there will be any of the right quality left for freezing. If there are, and you’d like us to store them for you they are frozen in the following steps:
- Special vitrification solutions are used to protect them in storage
- Your embryos are placed in straws individually so that we can trace each one
- The straws are frozen in liquid nitrogen at -196C. All storage vessels have temperature alarms which are monitored 24/7
When you’re ready to use your embryos we’ll remove an embryo from storage and carefully warm it. Then, if it’s good enough quality, we’ll prepare it for transfer. We’ll aim to place the embryo into the womb of you or your partner at the right time of the cycle, and timing will depend on the stage of the embryos, i.e whether they’re fertilised eggs, early embryos or blastocysts.
Thawing an embryo
In this video George, a Care embryologist, is thawing an embryo. He is moving the embryo between solutions using a very fine pipette. The process generally takes around 20 minutes.
Embryo freezing FAQs
How much control do I have over what happens to my embryos?
- How long your embryos can be stored for
- What should happen to embryos if something were to happen to you or your partner
- Whether embryos will be used for your own treatment or for someone else’s (e.g. if donating)
- Any other conditions for the use of the embryos
What if one of us changes our mind about using or donating our frozen embryos?
What happens when I want to use my frozen embryos?
Does freezing damage the embryos?
How safe is it to use frozen embryos in treatment?
What if I don’t use my embryos or I have some left over?
- Donation to another couple - embryo donation gives hope to people who previously thought there was no treatment available to help them. The donors would not be the legal parents of any child born as a result and would have no obligation to, or rights over, that child. Recipient couples of donated embryos would be the legal parents of any offspring born as a result of treatment.
- Donation for training purposes - Care occasionally needs embryos for in-house training purposes, for example when introducing new procedures or when training new staff in the standard practices we use. Techniques include ICSI, moving eggs/embryos between dishes, freezing/thawing of embryos and biopsy of embryos. Any training records would be reversibly anonymised by using only your clinic ID number.
- Donation to research – if your Care clinic participates in research they can provide details of the research projects involved