You’re about to start the process for a frozen embryo transfer and want to be as prepared as possible. After all, it took a lot of work to get here! We’ll break down the steps you can take so you can have a good understanding of what to expect.
Here, we’ll cover:
What is a frozen embryo transfer?
During in vitro fertilization (IVF), embryos that were made following the egg retrieval process can be frozen for later use, known as cryopreservation. These embryos, your own or from a donor, can then be thawed and transferred to the uterus during a frozen embryo transfer (FET).
Freezing embryos is required for preimplantation genetic testing (PGT), a technique in which several cells from the embryo(s) are analyzed, and the chromosomally-normal embryos can be transferred when the patient is ready. Chromosomally-normal embryos are less likely to result in miscarriage and more likely to result in a successful pregnancy. Most CCRM Fertility patients have their embryos frozen prior to transfer.
Frozen embryo transfer cycles might involve hormone support to prepare your uterus for the embryo(s). This makes it easier to control the timing of when you will have your transfer. Or, you may have a natural cycle, meaning no medications are used to affect your menstrual cycle. This means your transfer occurs when you naturally ovulate, but it can be harder to control the timing of the transfer. Your doctor will work with you to determine what the best treatment plan is for you.
Success rates of frozen embryo transfer
Success rates for FET depend on varying factors such as age, other medical conditions, and even what clinic you go to. Research shows you have a slightly higher chance of a live birth when you use frozen embryos.
The Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART) gives an overview of success rates by clinic. Here, you can view individual clinics’ success rates by age. CCRM’s PGT-A success rates are some of the highest in the nation, including a significant reduced risk of miscarriage (less than 5%) and increased live birth rates.
Tips to prepare for frozen embryo transfer
Preparing for an FET can help decrease anxiety about the process and help you know what to expect. Here is some helpful advice for getting ready for transfer day.
Get a good night’s sleep
You want to be well-rested for transfer day, and that means getting a good night’s sleep. Keep your room comfortably cool, and avoid caffeine before bedtime. Use a fan, a white noise machine, or diffuse some lavender oil to help you drift off. Research suggests sleep can impact fertility treatments, particularly for IVF.
Come to your appointment with a full bladder
You may be advised to drink 32 to 48 ounces of water before you arrive. This can make you a bit uncomfortable while you’re waiting, but it’s to help make sure your embryo(s) are placed in the best spot in your uterus. A full bladder helps your doctor to visualize your uterus better on ultrasound.
Pack a bag the night before and lay out some comfy clothes
In order to avoid last-minute scrambling, get everything organized the evening before your big day.
- Pack any medications you were told to bring to your appointment.
- You may want to bring something to keep you busy, such as a book or a knitting project if you have to wait for your doctor.
- Some people want to wear a special shirt or pair of socks for the transfer. Don’t forget to bring them!
- Take along a bag to put your belongings in, since you will need to leave these things in the room before you head to the transfer suite.
Wear loose-fitting, stretchy clothing for your transfer. You may be feeling bloated from fertility medications, so it helps to be as comfortable as possible.
Plan out the logistics
You don’t want to be late for transfer day, and traffic jams or construction detours can cause added stress. Make sure you have directions to the clinic where you’ll be having your transfer, and leave your home with plenty of time to spare to navigate traffic. Find childcare for your other children, and make sure you have someone to drive you home.
Foods to eat before your embryo transfer
There are no specific foods you should eat before your embryo transfer. The important thing to keep in mind is for your body to be at its healthiest. Eating a Mediterranean-type diet can increase your chances of IVF success if you’re under 35 and are not overweight, according to research. This includes:
- Fresh fruits and vegetables
- Lean proteins, such as fish and chicken
- Whole grains
- Healthy fats, such as avocados
These foods provide the nutrition you need for balanced meals in order to support your body for a potential pregnancy.
Foods to avoid before your embryo transfer
For your body to be at its most optimal to support a pregnancy, there are some foods you should limit leading up to your treatment. These include:
- Highly-processed foods, such as those that contain high fructose corn syrup, added colors and flavors, and artificial sweeteners
- High-salt foods, such as frozen dinners and pizza, canned meats, and bacon
- Refined grains, such as white bread, desserts, cereals, and crackers
- Red meats, such as beef and pork
What about when it comes to alcohol? A 2019 study found low to moderate weekly alcohol use did not affect fertility. So while there’s plenty of data suggesting refraining from alcohol while pregnant, having a glass or two before your transfer probably won’t hurt, but it is always a good idea to talk with your doctor first.
Medications that could interfere with the process
Some over-the-counter (OTC) medications can affect the embryo transfer process. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or naproxen might affect embryo implantation and increase the chance of miscarriage.
Talk with your doctor about any medications you’re taking, whether they’re prescription or OTC. Certain medications, including supplements, may not be recommended during the transfer process.
Chemicals to avoid
Certain items in your house can contain what’s known as endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs). These chemicals can disrupt your body’s hormone balance and have been known to cause fertility issues, certain cancers, diabetes, and respiratory concerns. Some common EDCs include:
- Bisphenol A (BPA), phenols, and phthalates found in plastics
- Brominated flame retardants found in electronics
- Dioxins found in female hygiene products such as tampons
- Parabens found in personal care products and sunscreen
- Triclosan found in anti-bacterial soaps
How CCRM Fertility can help
At CCRM Fertility, we’re here to help answer your questions and guide you through your frozen embryo transfer cycle. After your procedure, we’ll walk you through what to expect in the days after your FET.
Don’t hesitate to reach out to your CCRM Fertility specialist if you have any questions or concerns about your treatment plan. Contact us today!
Written by: Dr. Janet Choi, a board certified reproductive endocrinology and infertility specialist at CCRM Fertility New York.