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Embryo freezing

If you’re undergoing fertility treatment, you may end up with healthy embryos left over from your cycle that haven’t been transferred. If so, you have the option for your embryos to be frozen and stored for use in additional treatment later on or donated to research, training or another patient.

Embryos can also be frozen to preserve your fertility so that it may be possible to have a baby at a later stage.

Frozen embryo transfer at TFP Fertility

What is embryo freezing?

Embryo freezing, also known as embryo cryopreservation, is a process whereby fertilised embryos are rapidly frozen using a technique called vitrification and stored in liquid nitrogen for future use.  


It’s important to know that this doesn’t guarantee a future pregnancy.

Is embryo freezing right for me?

You may wish to consider freezing your embryos if: 

You want the option of using your embryos in the future

This could be for a sibling in the future or in case initial treatment doesn’t work. Freezing your embryos will mean you do not need to start the whole IVF or ICSI process from scratch.

Your fertility treatment needs to be cancelled after egg collection

For example, if you over respond to fertility medication and are advised to take a break.


Fertilising and freezing your embryos will mean you do not need to start the IVF or ICSI process from scratch.

You’re a transgender or non-binary person

If you’re starting hormone replacement therapy or planning to undergo reconstructive surgery, some or complete loss of fertility can be expected.

You have a condition that may affect your fertility

Polycystic ovary syndrome, endometriosis, uterine fibroids, and other health problems can affect a woman’s fertility.


Preserving your fertility is also an option for those about to start treatment for a medical condition, for example, cancer treatment.

You’re in the Armed Forces or have a hazardous job

If you’re working a job deemed as “hazardous” you may wish to preserve your fertility due to the increased risk of injury or exposure to harmful chemicals or illnesses.

Getting started contact us

We’re here to help

Whatever your situation, we’re here to answer your questions and guide you through your fertility preservation options. Please use our contact form to book an appointment at your local TFP Fertility clinic to find out more.

How long can I store my embryos for?

UK law permits you to store your embryos for use in treatment for up to 55 years from the date they are first placed in storage, however, you must renew your consent every ten years.


We’ll reach out when this renewal date approaches so you don’t need to worry about missing it. 


It’s important to know that embryos can only be stored if both you and the egg or sperm provider have given consent. This may be your partner, or it may be a donor if donor sperm or eggs have been used in your treatment.  

How many embryos should I freeze?

There’s no minimum or maximum requirement for freezing your embryos, however, the cost of storage is something to consider and will be down to your personal circumstances.


During your consultation, our fertility experts will cover all of this with you so you can make an informed decision when the time comes.  


It’s important to know that we would only recommend storing healthy embryos that have reached blastocyst stage to ensure a higher success rate when they’re thawed and transferred.  

Father kissing his son while holding him

Embryo freezing during IVF treatment

To freeze your embryos, you will have to go through a partial IVF cycle, taking you up to the fertilisation stage.  


The embryo freezing process can take up to four weeks and looks something like this: 


  • Suppressing the natural menstrual cycle. Medication will be administered at home via an injection to stop natural hormone production and control when your eggs are released.

  • Stimulating the ovaries. Further medication will be given to stimulate egg production. This increases the chance of more eggs being collected.  

  • Monitoring progress. A scan will be performed to check the development of the follicles that produce the eggs. This will determine when the eggs are collected.  

  • Egg retrieval. Once the follicles have reached the correct size, an injection will be given to mature the eggs for collection. A needle is then gently guided through the vaginal wall to capture the eggs one by one. Don’t worry, you will be sedated for this part of the procedure to ensure no pain or discomfort.  

  • Fertilising the eggs. The eggs are fertilised with sperm in the lab.  

  • Embryo development: Embryos are cultured in the lab for 5-6 days until they reach the blastocyst stage.

     

If you're participating in a fresh IVF cycle, the best embryo/s will be chosen for transfer. Any remaining healthy embryos can be frozen and stored for future use.

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