Our Guide to Frozen Embryo Transfers

29th January 2016 in Treatments

This information was correct at the time of publishing. It may not reflect our current practices, prices or regulations.

If you’re undergoing IVF or ICSI, frozen embryo transfer is a term you’ll hear throughout your treatment. But what does it involve? And are success rates affected?

What is an FET cycle?

When you have IVF or ICSI, if you have any good quality embryos remaining after your transfer, these can be frozen and stored by us in our laboratory, for your use in a future cycle. 

When you’re ready to start your treatment again, instead of going through a brand new IVF cycle from scratch, you’ll undergo a frozen embryo transfer (FET) cycle.

What does an FET cycle involve?

Because you’re not starting a full new IVF cycle, we have to ensure your uterus is ready to accept your embryo. We do this through natural cycle – so monitoring when you are naturally ovulating – and also hormone-controlled, where you’ll be given a drugs protocol specific to you that will make the lining of you uterus grow so that it’s ready to accept your transferred embryo. 

In natural cycles we can work out the best date for your transfer using an ovulation predictor kit to check you have ovulated. For hormone controlled cycles you’ll undergo an ultrasound scan at our clinic, where we’ll measure the thickness of the lining to ensure it’s at the optimum level for your embryo. The date of your embryo transfer will be carefully timed according to the development stage at which your embryo was frozen. 

On the day of embryo transfer, we’ll contact you to let you know that your embryo is ready, as we have to first ensure that it has survived the thawing process and is suitable to transfer. You’ll then come into the clinic and undergo embryo transfer in our theatre under the care of our team. You’ll be able to take a pregnancy test two weeks later. 

What are the success rates when using frozen embryos?

Our pregnancy rates from FET cycles are consistently high. Snapshot results show that 42% of our patients aged 35 and under (compared to 33% nationally) and 40% of our older patients aged 40-42 (compared to 25% nationally) achieve pregnancy. 

This is thanks to the methods we use to freeze your embryos and the skills of our Embryologists in embryo selection. 

To freeze your embryo we use a state-of-the-art technique called vitrification, or ‘fast-freezing’, which helps to prevent the formation of ice crystals within the embryo. Just before transfer, your embryo is dipped into a special solution called EmbryoGlue, which helps it to ‘stick’ to your uterus.

Does it matter how long my embryo has been stored for?

Success rates are not dependent upon the length of time your embryo has been stored. Many families decide to expand their families years down the line. Thanks to the methods and techniques we use to select and freeze embryos, your embryos can remain frozen for many years, with no affect on their quality. You can consent to store your embryos with us for up to 10 years. 

How much does a frozen embryo transfer cycle cost?

As you aren’t starting a full new cycle, costs are less than a full IVF cycle. You can find out our latest fees for a hormone-controlled FET cycle, plus drugs, on our Prices page.

How many embryos can I have transferred?

We will decide in consultation with you how many embryos to transfer, dependent upon your age, medical history and likely chance of success. We may recommend transferring one embryo, or two. 

If you have any further questions about FET cycles, why not speak to our friendly Patient Advisors? Call our team on 0161 300 2737 or use our discreet live chat service, available via our homepage during clinic hours.

Last updated: 18th December 2020