When prospective parents embark on the surrogacy journey, they’re faced with a crucial decision: fresh or frozen embryo transfer (FET) cycles. This choice is as significant as finding the right surrogate because it determines the path to parenthood. In this article, we will explore the pros and cons of both options and shed light on the factors that should influence your decision.
Considerations When Using an Egg Donor and a Gestational Surrogate:
The steps involved in donating eggs and surrogacy are time-consuming and challenging, particularly if prospective intended parents choose to use fresh embryos. Why?
- Egg donor and surrogate have to find time in their daily lives simultaneously.
- The surrogate and donor’s menstrual cycles must be synchronized via medication.
- There is no certainty about how the egg donor will respond to the medication, the number of eggs retrieved, or how many embryos will be created.
However, there’s an alternative: the frozen embryo transfer (FET). Here’s how it simplifies the surrogacy process:
- With frozen embryos, the screening and retrieval processes have already been completed beforehand, so less coordination is needed.
- Prospective intended parents only need to focus on the surrogate’s needs and transfer timeline.
- There are no surprises about the number of eggs retrieved and embryos created.
Fresh vs. Frozen Embryo Transfers: Which Is Better?
When educating yourself about IVF transfers, you will become familiar with the typical discussion of fresh versus frozen embryos. Which is the most recommended? Is there a significant difference between the two options? Before going deeper into this debate, you must know that every situation is different. Only you and your doctor can decide which approach is best. These are some things to keep in mind as you think about the two options:
1. Pregnancy Rates
In the Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) field, the predominant thought is that fresh embryo transfers are much more successful than frozen ones. Several studies relating to this subject have been published in the last few years. The results generally show no significant difference (or even better results) in the rates of pregnancy between fresh and frozen embryo transfers due to the widespread use of new advanced IVF technologies. Similar studies have also been undertaken to determine if normal pregnancies are developed by freezing the embryos.
2. Stress During the IVF Process
Many IVF clinics consider the frozen embryo transfer to be a less stressful procedure. Intended parents do not have to worry about how many viable embryos they will get at the same time that they coordinate the transfer process with the surrogate because that part of the process has already been completed.
Thanks to that, intended parents can focus entirely on planning the transfer and organizing a convenient time for the treatments with their surrogates.
3. Process Duration
Suppose the intended parents decide to do a FET. Usually, they will have to expect additional time for pregnancy because embryo transfer doesn’t happen right after the egg retrieval and embryo creation. Even an IVF cycle with a fresh embryo transfer can feel endless to the hopeful intended parents. Adding more time to the process can seem unbearable.
4. Embryo Survival Rate
Embryos may not survive the freezing and/or thawing process. This can be one of the biggest concerns for most intended parents. Although there is a chance of losing some embryos, with the latest techniques, the survival rate is over 95% nowadays. The embryo creation techniques used by their IVF clinic should be a key factor to consider when choosing the clinic to work with
5. Genetic Test Results
Suppose prospective parents want to do a preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) or screening (PGS) tests to ensure that the healthiest embryo is transferred. In that case, a frozen embryo transfer provides the laboratory time to do the tests. It gives the intended parents time to process the results.
6. Cost efficiency
Additionally, it can be more cost-effective to use frozen embryos than fresh embryos because intended parents only need to do one IVF egg donation cycle. They will have several frozen embryos created in case the first transfer attempt fails.
7. Finding a Match
Sometimes, especially in Canada and some US states, where there can be a shortage of surrogates, intended parents’ chances of finding one may increase if they have already created the embryos. Why? For surrogates, the egg donation process is also uncertain; this variable can impact their decision to match with some intended parents.
The Benefits of Frozen Embryo Transfer in Surrogacy
- Enhanced Timing Control: FET allows for precise timing. Embryos can be frozen and stored until the prospective parents and surrogates are ready for the transfer. This flexibility reduces the stress of coordinating cycles.
- Improved Embryo Quality: Advanced freezing techniques enhance embryo survival rates during thawing, leading to higher FET success rates.
- Increased Flexibility: FET provides flexibility in scheduling. Coordinating the surrogate’s and the intended mother’s cycles is unnecessary.
In surrogacy, the decision between fresh or frozen embryo transfer cycles isn’t a one-size-fits-all scenario. It’s a decision that requires careful consideration, consultation with medical professionals, and alignment with your circumstances.
While fresh transfers have traditionally been the preferred option, improvements in IVF technology have made frozen embryo transfer (FET) a real alternative.
Remember, the surrogacy journey is one filled with hope and joy. Regardless of the path you decide to take, the ultimate destination remains the same: the heartwarming moment when you welcome a new life into your family.