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After IVF: The Embryo Decision

As a result of in vitro fertilization (IVF), embryos that are not transferred to the woman’s uterus on the first attempt at pregnancy (fresh cycle) may be cryopreserved (frozen).  You should ask your fertility clinic what options are available to you for these embryos. 

Your Options
Questions to Ask Your Doctor
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Your Options 

Use for Reproduction: You can keep the embryos for future attempts at pregnancy.  But you should plan for some expenses as the fertility clinic charges a storage fee even between IVF cycles.

Donate to Research:  If your fertility clinic has a partnership with a research facility you can donate your embryos to various types of medical and scientific research.  Read RESOLVE’s Statement on Stem Cell Research here.

Donate to Another Couple: You can choose to donate your embryos to an infertile couple in hopes that they have a baby. Read more here.

Freeze Indefinitely: Some patients choose to store their embryos with their clinic indefinitely.  This can be a costly option as the clinics will charge either per month or per year for storage.  Sometimes patients feel this is their only choice because they are unaware of the other options.

Thaw & Discard: The embryos are taken out of storage by the clinic, thawed in the lab, and at that point they stop growing and dividing.

Perform A Disposal Ceremony: You can take the embryos from the fertility clinic and dispose of them as you see fit, such as having a personal ceremony or creating a special moment to come to closure regarding the embryos.

Receive A Compassionate Transfer: You can talk to your doctor about transferring your embryos at a time in your cycle when there is no chance for you to become pregnant. Your body will take care of the embryos naturally.

Talk to Your Doctor:

  • How long can my embryos remain cryopreserved at this clinic?
  • How much do I pay each month to store my embryos?
  • Does this clinic have an embryo donation program?  If so, what do I need to do if I want to anonymously donate my surplus embryos to another couple?
  • If I want to donate my embryos to another couple, what is the process for having my embryos shipped to the prospective recipient?
  • What tests or other procedures will I have to do if I want to transfer my embryos to another person?
  • What consent forms have I signed?  Can you review with me what I signed concerning my surplus embryos?
  • Does this clinic have a relationship with a research facility?  If yes, what do I need to do to donate my embryos to research?
  • If the clinic does not have a relationship with a research facility, then what are my options in terms of donating to research?
  • If I no longer want the embryos, explain to me what happens next.
  • Will the clinic give me my embryos?  If so, how will they be given to me?
  • Please explain what is involved with transfering the embryos to my uterus at an infertile time.  How much will this procedure cost?


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