What is the Right Choice For You: Embryo Disposition Options

Do you have embryos remaining in frozen storage? Learn your dispositions options and find the right choice for you and your family.

Who knew something so small could lead to such a large dilemma for some families?

Thousands of families go through In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) every year, an artificial reproductive technology process joining a female’s egg and a male’s sperm together in a petri dish. The result is human embryos which will be transferred into the intended mother in an attempt to achieve pregnancy. The embryos not transferred will then be frozen and stored for later use.

Often, when a family goes through IVF and has completed their family building process (they have the desired number of children), they will have embryos left over. What to do?

Families now have four disposition options for their embryos.

Frozen Embryo Donation- Some patients choose to donate their embryos to another infertile couple who would like to build their family. The donation process can be anonymous or you may choose the family who receives your embryos. Several agencies and clinics have programs to assist you. The EmbryoAdoption.org website contains detailed information, videos and personal stories about frozen embryo donation and adoption.

Releasing Remaining Embryos for Scientific Research- Frozen embryos are used by scientists for experiments, including embryonic stem cell research. Talk to your physician to understand qualification process and available programs.

Keep the Remaining Embryo Frozen- Couples who choose to keep their embryos frozen may not be done with their family building or may be facing unexpected personal issues that make it easier to simply keep them frozen. No ‘shelf-life’ has been determined for frozen embryos. Children have been born from embryos that have been cryogenically frozen for more than 12 years. You will pay annual storage fees to your clinic or your clinic may move your embryo off-site long term storage at a cryo-bank.

Dispose of the Remaining Embryos- You may choose to discard your remaining embryos. Your clinic can explain their policies and procedures regarding this choice.

To learn more about options for families with remaining embryos in frozen storage including embryo donation, visit the Embryo Donation page of EmbryoAdoption.org.