How to Freeze Embryos for Surrogacy

What to Know About the Embryo Freezing Process

Embryo freezing is often the key to someone finally becoming parents. Knowing what goes into the embryo freezing process can help you feel confident as you embark on the life-changing journey to parenthood.

Embryo freezing, also known as cryopreservation, is an important part of many fertility treatments. It allows you to preserve your embryos for future use, providing flexibility and peace of mind. Many couples choose to freeze their embryos for a variety of reasons, like before undergoing medical treatments or military deployments.

To help you understand what to expect, we’re here to break down the entire embryo freezing process, from ovarian stimulation to embryo storage, letting you feel confident as you embark on the life-changing journey to parenthood.

Have embryos created or need help connecting with a fertility clinic? Contact us online now to speak with a specialist.

 

 

How to Freeze Embryos [5 Steps]

1. Medications for Ovarian Stimulation or Finding an Egg Donor

For women using their own eggs, the process to freeze embryos begins with ovarian stimulation. This involves taking hormonal medications to encourage the ovaries to produce multiple eggs. Common medications include:

  • Gonadotropins: These hormones stimulate the ovaries directly.

  • Letrozole: Medication that’s also an aromatase inhibitor.

  • Clomiphene Citrate: Sometimes used to boost the body's own production of stimulating hormones.

If using an egg donor during the embryo freezing process, you’ll go through a matching process to find the right donor. This involves choosing a donor based on physical characteristics, health history and other preferences. The donor will then undergo ovarian stimulation and egg retrieval. During this process, it’s common to experience a wide range of emotions, including:

  • Mood swings similar to PMS symptoms such as fatigue, constipation, bruising, bloating, cramping and headaches.

  • Feeling out of control, anxious or sad.

  • Grief, anxiety or fear stemming from the decision to freeze your eggs.

If you’re experiencing emotions that are difficult to cope, remember to be gentle on yourself and reach out to your specialists who can help connect you with the resources you need.

2. Egg Retrieval

Once the eggs are mature, they are retrieved from the ovaries through a minor surgical procedure called follicular aspiration. This is typically done under sedation and involves using an ultrasound-guided needle to collect the eggs.

3. Fertilization

After retrieval, the eggs are fertilized with sperm in a laboratory setting. This can be done using conventional in vitro fertilization (IVF) or intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), where a single sperm is injected directly into an egg.

Before freezing, some people choose to have their embryos go through preimplantation genetic testing (PGT) to screen for chromosomal abnormalities or genetic disorders. This can provide additional peace of mind but may also increase the overall cost and time required.

4. Freezing

In the slow-freezing method, the embryos are gradually cooled to a very low temperature over a period of about two hours. This method has been traditionally used but is less common now due to the development of faster and more efficient techniques.

Another more efficient way to freeze embryos is through vitrification. This method is a rapid freezing process that prevents the formation of ice crystals, which can damage the embryos. It is now the standard practice and offers higher survival rates for the embryos.

5. Storage

Frozen embryos are stored in liquid nitrogen tanks at temperatures around -321°F. They can be safely stored for 10 years, allowing you to pursue parenthood when you’re ready.

 

How Long Does It Take to Freeze Embryos?

The entire process, from ovarian stimulation to embryo freezing, typically takes about 2-3 weeks. This includes approximately 10-14 days of ovarian stimulation, followed by egg retrieval, fertilization and the freezing process itself.

How Much Does It Cost to Freeze Embryos?

The embryo freezing cost can vary significantly based on a variety of factors, including the clinic, location and specific treatments required. Generally, the total cost can range from $14,000 to $20,000, which includes:

  • Ovarian stimulation medications

  • Egg retrieval

  • Fertilization

  • Cryopreservation

  • Additional costs for storage and genetic testing

How Many Embryos Should Be Frozen?

The number of embryos to freeze depends on your circumstances including age, fertility goals and medical history. Typically, freezing more embryos increases the chances of a successful pregnancy in the future. Many clinics recommend freezing at least 5-10 embryos if possible.

 

 

Success Rates of Freezing vs. Fresh Embryos

Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET) Success Rates

Studies have shown that the success rates for frozen embryo transfers are comparable to, and sometimes even higher than fresh embryo transfers. Factors contributing to this include improved freezing techniques, like vitrification, and the ability to perform transfers in a more natural cycle.

Fresh Embryo Transfer Success Rates

Fresh embryo transfers have traditionally been the standard approach, but they can be affected by the body's response to ovarian stimulation medications. Some patients may have a higher success rate with frozen embryos due to the ability to maximize the timing of the transfer.

We understand that you want nothing more than to have the family of your dream. Whether you are using your own eggs or an egg donor, the advancements the embryo freezing process puts you on the right track toward building your future family.

If you have embryos created and want to begin your surrogacy journey or need help connecting with a fertility clinic, contact us online now to speak with a specialist.