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Donor or frozen embryo treatments

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You might require treatment using your own frozen or donor frozen embryos. These treatments typically do not require stimulating drugs, so are known as un-stimulated cycles. Whether you are using your own frozen or donor frozen embryos, the treatment journeys are similar.

1. Referrals

Your referral may come from your GP or hospital doctor, or you can self-refer. Learn more about the referrals process.

2. Pre-treatment

Preliminary fertility assessment tests and screening

To make the best decision about your treatment in the consultation, your doctor needs the results of some tests. There may be a combination of blood tests and a vaginal ultrasound scan to assess your ovaries, and a semen assessment where appropriate. Your GP may do the tests and provide the results at the time of referral, or you can arrange an appointment yourself at the clinic. Learn more about TFP fertility assessment packages.

Initial consultation

At your first consultation with a TFP fertility specialist, they will cover your medical history and explain your test results. You and your doctor will then discuss their recommended programme of treatment based on your personal results and circumstances.

3. Counselling

Counselling is available at any stage of your treatment pathway. Fertility treatment is a significant emotional journey for all patients, and counselling provides extra emotional support.

It is completely confidential. If you are going to be using donated eggs or sperm for your treatment, then you’ll be recommended to see the counsellor before starting treatment to discuss the implications for both you and any children that may be born. Learn more about fertility counselling.

4. Treatment planning appointment

At your treatment planning appointment one of our specialist fertility nurses will explain your treatment in full. You will be taken through your regime of drugs and shown how to use them.

You will have the opportunity to ask questions regarding your forthcoming treatment. It’s also the time when you officially consent to undergo fertility treatment, and we go over the legal side of things.

This is an important part of the process which ensures that your parenthood will be recognised legally after treatment. We require that everyone involved in the treatment comes to the treatment planning appointment. It generally takes 60 minutes. If you are funding your own treatment, you will need to pay for your treatment programme at this point. Once all the tests, consent forms and payment are completed, you are ready to start your IVF cycle. Learn more about the treatment planning appointment

5. Starting treatment

Your treatment will start on the first day of your period. You will need to call the clinic to let us know and to receive the instruction to start the treatment plan, as explained by your fertility specialist in your consultation and nurse in your planning appointment. As you’re not undergoing ovarian stimulation, you may or may not have drugs to take in this cycle; this will be agreed upon with your doctor at your consultation. If you have a regular menstrual cycle, we will monitor you so that we can transfer the embryo(s) at the best point in your ‘natural cycle’.

6. Cycle monitoring

We’ll monitor your cycle through visits to the clinic for scans and possibly blood tests. The timings are different for everyone, because treatment is tailored to suit each patient individually.

7. Embryo creation and selection

If you are using donated eggs or sperm, they will be used for insemination in the laboratory to create your embryos. If you’re using your own or donated frozen embryos, they will be carefully thawed for implantation. We place your embryos into culture dishes in the incubator to allow development to take place.

8. Embryo development

The embryos are carefully monitored in the period after insemination, first to check for fertilisation, then for signs for development which indicate the embryo is growing. Time-lapse monitoring allows us to carefully monitor embryo development. Click here to learn more about time-lapse monitoring. The clinic will be able to update you on embryo development.

Shortly after egg collection, you may also start taking drugs to help prepare your uterus lining to receive an embryo (this is known as Luteal Phase Support).

If your treatment plan includes genetic testing, then this will happen during this phase.

9. Embryo transfer

The decision about when to complete the embryo transfer will depend on the number and quality of your embryos. You’re effectively ‘on call' to come in for the transfer appointment when your embryos are ready. The procedure can feel like a smear test, but it takes longer: around 15 minutes. A tiny drop of culture medium containing one or two embryos is carefully deposited in the uterus using a thin catheter. If you decided before treatment to store any further good quality embryos for further cycles, you’ll be consulted again, and it will happen at this stage.

10. The wait

We appreciate how difficult this two-week wait can be. Please call us at any time if you are concerned; no worry is too small. It’s a good idea to make plans for after embryo transfer to help you feel more in control. We encourage you to try to live life as normally as possible.

11. The outcome

Positive test

If you’re pregnant, we schedule a scan in the clinic at around six to eight weeks. If everything looks good, you’re discharged to your GP.

Negative test

If your period arrives before the test is due, or the test is negative, rest assured you are not alone.

We can meet to talk, review your treatment, and consider what the next step will be on your assisted fertility journey. Assisted fertility conception often takes place over a number of cycles.

You could be ready for a new cycle within a short time, even a couple of months if you have frozen embryos, but this is completely up to you.

Our TFP fertility clinics in the UK


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