UT Health Physicians

Embryo Cryopreservation

Embryo cryopreservation is another important part of a successful Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART) program. Cryopreservation affords patients several advantages. Patients can cryopreserve embryos in excess of the ones that are usually transferred during an ART cycle. These embryos provide a second or even third opportunity for pregnancy without undergoing another ovarian stimulation and retrieval.

Those embryos that meet developmental criteria for appearance and rate of growth can be frozen at any of several stages in their development. The freezing process is computer controlled and employs special solutions to protect the fertilized eggs from damage. Frozen embryos are stored at extremely cold temperatures. Prior to ART, a consent form indicating what should be done with any additional embryos will be signed. Current choices are disposal or cryopreservation for your future use. We will store your embryos for up to three years based upon the initial consent form. If you desire to continue storage past this time, we will need to complete a new agreement. During that time, you must keep us informed of your current address at least annually. Social, ethical, and legal principles related to various aspects of ART have not yet been established. For this reason, you should discuss the implications of cryopreservation with your physician and with an attorney before proceeding with ART. Issues to consider include the disposition of embryos in the event of divorce or the death of either you or your partner.

As with cryopreserved semen, some embryos do not survive cryopreservation and thawing. We have established a very successful frozen embryo transfer (FET) program. Additionally, recent national data suggests that fresh and frozen embryo transfer success rates are equivalent. This is likely because of the use of modern freezing techniques such as vitrification and the transfer of the embryo under more “natural” conditions. The number of embryos transferred with a frozen embryo is similar to that for a fresh embryo transfer and is based upon the guidelines established by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. The number selected for transfer is based upon the quality of the embryos after undergoing thawing, the female partner’s age at the time of cryopreservation, the results of PGT testing if available, and the success of prior IVF cycles. Embryos can be transferred successfully during either a natural cycle or an artificial cycle in which you take estrogen and progesterone. There is no consensus regarding which approach is "best." Further information is available under Frozen Embryo Transfer.

UT Health Fertility Center doctors are also faculty at The University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio School of Medicine. This allows us to remain one of the most cost-efficient fertility practices in the area. Our staff is happy to answer questions about referrals, itemized diagnostic and treatment costs and billing options. The UT Health Fertility Center participates in a variety of insurance plans. For your convenience, we accept VISA, MasterCard, and Discover.