Embryo freezing is a method used to store good quality embryos following IVF or ICSI treatment.
Several embryos usually develop with IVF or ICSI treatment, many will be of poor quality. These embryos are very unlikely to result in pregnancy. In a minority of cases, there will be good quality embryos remaining after the embro transfer. Under these circumstances, it is possible to freeze and store these embryos for transfer at a later time.
We will advise you if there are embryos suitable for freezing. An embryologist will make this decision, based on the quality of the embryos remaining. We will not freeze poor quality embryos.
Anyone storing either embryos or gametes must be screened for HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C. We do not have storage facilities for couples or individuals who test positive for any of these conditions. So we would not be able to freeze the embryos in that situation.
Not all frozen embryos will survive the thawing process. There is a chance that when you decide to have frozen embryos thawed, you may not have any embryos available for transfer.
The success rates from transferring frozen embryos is less than that for fresh embryos.
The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act (HFEA) requires you to complete consent forms that determine what can and cannot be done with your embryos. You will sign these forms before embryos are frozen. The HFEA provides written information about the legal aspects of embryo freezing. This will be made available to you before you sign the consent forms.
While we take every reasonable precaution to take care of your embryos. We cannot guarantee against failure of the storage system under all circumstances.
Keeping in touch
It will be your responsibility to keep in touch with us to let us know what you want to do with the embryos. If we are unable to contact you, this may result in the embryos being removed from storage. Some patients will need to pay an annual fee for the storage of embryos.
Couples who have embryos suitable for freezing have the highest chance of conceiving when they have fresh embryos transferred. If you complete your family with this first treatment, you may have difficulty deciding what to do with your frozen embryos. You can contact us to discuss this at any time if you need help.
At any time, you can vary and/or withdraw your instructions about the storage of embryos (including authorisation to destroy them). To do this you must give us notice in writing.
If you decide not to use your embryos these can either be;
- used to treat another couple
- used for research
It is legally possible to store embryos for up to 10 years. We will ask you to reconsider continuing storage every year.
We cannot guarantee that embryos which have been frozen and stored will be unaffected by the process. The current state of medical opinion is that we do not consider freezing and thawing of embryos causes any harm that would result in an increased risk of damage to subsequent children born.