Reproductive Health Center, Tucson, Arizona

What happens to your extra embryos?

After you have IVF, what happens to your extra embryos? – IVF Scottsdale

During the process of IVF, most couples are focused on doing whatever they can to get healthy and maximize the chances of a pregnancy. They may be thinking about holding their future child, but they’re usually not too concerned about any extra embryos that are being created. After the baby is born, though, the question eventually comes up. What will happen to the extra embryos?

Using them in your own future pregnancies

If you’re planning to have more children in the future, or if you think that you might want to do so, then your embryos can be kept frozen until it’s time to use them again. This way, we don’t have to start the process of IVF all over again when you’re ready to conceive again. Instead of having another round of egg harvesting and fertilization, we’ll simply keep your spare healthy embryos frozen until the next time you’re ready to try implantation.

After you decide that your family is complete, you have several options.

Keeping them frozen

If you believe that you’re done having children, but you’re not quite sure, you can choose to keep the embryos frozen for the long-term. Many couples also keep them frozen while deciding what else to do with them. However, keep in mind that you will need to pay a storage fee for every year that the embryos remain frozen. Although some couples simply keep their embryos frozen forever, this isn’t cost-effective and is also not useful. It’s better to spend some time and energy making a decision, rather than keep the embryos in limbo.

Donating them to other couples

Embryo adoption is one way for infertile couples to have a baby. In this process, an infertile couple adopts an embryo from another couple. The embryo is implanted into the woman’s uterus, and she will carry the child, even though it’s not genetically related to her.

For some couples, embryo adoption allows them to give their frozen embryos a chance at life, even if they don’t want any more children themselves. It’s also a way to help another couple who hasn’t been able to have a child yet. For couples with religious or personal objections to discarding embryos, this is also the only option besides keeping the embryos permanently frozen.

However, other couples feel uncomfortable with the idea of another couple bearing a child that’s genetically their own. For these couples, there are two other options.

Donating them to science

Scientific research using embryonic stem cells has shown great promise in curing a variety of diseases. In order to conduct this research, scientists need access to embryos. Rather than creating new embryos, they can use donated embryos that would have otherwise been discarded or kept frozen forever. In this way, your extra embryos can be used in research that could one day help to heal your children from a disabling or life-threatening disease or injury. If you’re interested in this option, your fertility clinic care coordinator can help to connect you with labs that need embryonic stem cells.

This will mean that the embryos are destroyed in the process of conducting the research. However, they may help many people through the cures that are developed.

Discarding them

If you aren’t comfortable with the idea of another couple adopting your embryos, and you also don’t want to donate them to scientific research, you can also decide to have the embryos discarded. Because of the expense of keeping them frozen, couples who don’t feel comfortable with the other options may choose to discard the embryos. Once your embryos are discarded, you won’t have to spend time and energy thinking about them anymore. Some couples choose to have a small ceremony as the embryos are discarded, to honor the moment.

Discuss this with your partner

Part of the reason that embryos end up sitting in frozen storage forever is that most couples don’t think about what to do with those embryos. Of course, while you’re going through IVF, the only thing you want to think about is having your baby. Don’t let this issue stress you out! Just know that this is a decision you’ll need to make at some point, so you and your partner may want to talk about it and decide what you want to do. Above all – focus on the joy of holding your baby in your arms.

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