What Do We Do With Unused Embryos?

unused embryos

What Do We Do With Unused Embryos?

When you create the embryos for your IVF cycles, all of the focus is on successful transfer and implantation. However, the team at the Fertility Center of Dallas likes to take a comprehensive approach to the IVF timeline – which includes planning what to do with our patients’ extra embryos when they are finished with their IVF cycles.

Your Family Is Complete: What’s Next for Embryos?

For the first several years, embryos typically remained frozen and stored, waiting for any future IVF cycles that would yield additional children. Once a family is complete, it can be challenging to determine what comes next for the embryos.

Ideally, the conversation about what to do with extra embryos is best had before you begin your first IVF cycle. It doesn’t mean your feelings and choices won’t change down the road, but having a plan means you’ve considered the entire IVF picture – from start to finish.

1) Keep them frozen and stored until you’re ready to do otherwise

There’s absolutely no reason to do anything at all until you are ready. You can keep them frozen and stored for as long as you want. However, many families find that once their family building is complete, the funds used to store them may be better served elsewhere – like to support their children’s extracurricular activities or begin saving for college.

That said, you have time to decide what you want to do with your embryos, and FCD or your embryo lab will keep them safe for you until you are 100% confident with your choice.

2) Donate embryos to a family who needs them

Sometimes, couples just like you don’t have the option to use their own eggs and sperm or the embryos created from their egg and sperm aren’t viable for IVF (usually the result of chromosomal or genetic abnormalities). In this case, they can use donated embryos from other couples.

For many infertile couples in Dallas, this feels like a win-win option because it protects healthy embryos from being thawed and disposed of. Donated embryos are treated like an adoption, so there will be a bit of legal paperwork involved. They can also be treated as open or closed adoption, depending on your wishes. Once those documents are all in order, you’ll have the peace of mind that comes from knowing you’ve helped a couple who has walked your path to achieve their own family building miracle.

Your fertility specialist and staff can help you learn more about the embryo donation/adoption process. You can also visit the Snowflakes website – which is one of the most widely used and respected organizations that facilitates embryo adoptions.

3) Donate the embryos to science

First, it is important to clarify that embryos donated to science are never transferred into another woman’s uterus and will not become babies or children. While they will ultimately be destroyed via whatever research causes they are donated to, you will know they were used for research designed to further the cause of medicine and, perhaps, to save lives.

You absolutely have the right to know what your embryos will be used for, which gives you some agency in choosing the right place to send them. Like adoption options, this will require some amount of paperwork on your side to make sure the transaction falls within Texas and United States legal guidelines.

4) Thaw them and…

Finally, you have the option to thaw the embryos and let them reach a natural conclusion to their life cycle. Options for this include:

  • Compassionate transfer. We can transfer the remaining embryos into your uterus at a time when there is no chance of them implanting. This allows nature and the body to take it’s course, and the embryos will be absorbed by your body the same way they would have been if an egg was conceived and unable to implant on its own.
  • Thawing and disposal. If it’s simply too much for you to handle or plan for, we completely understand. In that case, you just let us know and our lab will respectfully thaw and discard them for you. We are passionate about the work we do and will handle these embryos with the utmost care.

Are you considering IVF or do you have embryos stored here at the Fertility Center of Dallas? Contact us to discuss your options and create a plan that honors what to do with extra embryos after IVF, in alignment with your wishes.

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