Frozen embryo transfer (FET)

If you have frozen embryos from a previous cycle, they can be thawed and placed in your uterus, avoiding the need to go through another IVF cycle.

How does it work?

We strongly recommend that good quality embryos surplus to the requirements of a fresh IVF cycle are frozen and stored for your future use. This laboratory technique is highly successful both in post-thaw survival and pregnancy outcome. As embryos are stored at minus 197°C they can – in theory – be preserved forever. However, in the UK storage is limited by regulation to 55 years.

Thawed embryos can be replaced in a natural menstrual cycle or in a hormone replacement cycle (HRT). We tend to recommend the latter, as it gives us more opportunity to examine the growth and development of your uterus before thawing the precious embryo(s).

The HRT treatment involves damping down your own hormones and substituting them for the necessary hormones to create the best environment in your uterus for the embryo(s). We’ll monitor your progress to assess the right time for the transfer, maximising your chances of achieving a pregnancy.

Is it right for me?

Frozen embryo transfer (FET) is appropriate if you already have frozen embryos and wish to return for further treatment without going through a full cycle of IVF.

FET is considerably less invasive and less expensive than a fresh IVF cycle and may be the best choice if you’re considering treatment sometime after the embryos were created. For example, you may have chosen to freeze your embryos before receiving cancer treatment, because of other health factors that could potentially affect fertility, or because you wanted to postpone pregnancy for other reasons.

Of course, it could be that you have been successful in an earlier cycle(s) and simply wish to add to your family.

What next?

We’ll agree a personalised treatment plan with you and then you’ll attend a number of  monitoring appointments – for example, ultrasound scans – to decide the optimal timing for your embryo transfer.

Following the thawing of your frozen embryos, one or two can be transferred to your uterus through a narrow catheter passed through your cervix – the same method used in a fresh IVF cycle.

You’ll be able to take a pregnancy test 18 days after embryo transfer. If your test result is positive, you will be invited for a scan about 20 days later at one of our clinics – in Cambridge, Norwich or Wickford.

If your embryos are frozen and stored by us, we’ll contact you each year and ask you to confirm your wishes for the next 12 months. If you decide to continue storage with us, there will be an annual fee.