When going through IVF (in vitro fertilization), the last thing on your mind is what to do if you have embryos left over. But at the end of the process, when you’ve finally conceived, you might have a few frozen (cryopreserved) embryos. Here is what to do with them.
1. Keep Them
If you think you might use your embryos in the future, you can keep them frozen at your IVF center or another facility. There will be a fee, but it will give you time to decide about your family’s future. Just be aware that every clinic is different and yours might need you to switch your embryos to a cryo center after a certain amount of time. So check with them before you make your decision.
You might be completely done with procreating and, if so, prefer that your embryos be destroyed rather than used or studied. If that is the case, you can issue a directive to the center that has your embryos. There may be a good amount of paperwork and a fee, but you won’t have to worry about paying for storage anymore.
3. Donate Them
There are two ways you can go about donating your cryopreserved embryos: give them to research or give them to a prospective parent. With research there may be some restrictions if you have a donor egg; not all clinics do it, and there are certain criteria that the embryo needs to meet. And if you want to donate to another parent, realize that there are a lot of legal restrictions; including donor egg agreements, the quality of your embryo, legal terms with the prospective parents, etc. Make sure to consult an attorney that has dealt with this before. And ask your clinic for suggestions.
4. Use Them
If you’re not ready for another child soon, there are some clinics that will help you make a “compassionate transfer.” That is when they thaw the embryos and put them in a woman when she is least likely to get pregnant. There may be a fee and, of course, you or your partner may get pregnant, but it is an option if you are uncomfortable with the other options. However, not all centers perform this, so check with your doctor.
Making a Decision
No matter what choice you make, make sure you’ve adequately weighted your options under the guidance of a fertility professional. And make sure to meet with a mental health professional. But don’t just walk away. The decision is difficult, but abandoning your embryos is a decision in its own way.
More info: www.resolve.org