Michelle Embleton, inviTRA's biochemist, tells us about the fate of surplus embryos in IVF:
In an IVF treatment the woman will undergo ovarian stimulation in order to develop a mature several of her eggs, which will then be collected in an egg retrieval process. These will be fertilized with a previously prepared sperm sample in the laboratory and the resulting embryos will be grown in culture for a few days and monitored carefully. When the time for the embryo transfer comes, the very best embryos will be selected and transferred to the woman's uterus. Usually only one or two eggs are transferred into the woman's uterus, which leaves us in many cases with the issue of what to do with the leftover embryos. The main options you open to you here are: To vitrify, freeze, cryopreserve your embryos for future use, in case you need to repeat the embryo transfer if the treatment doesn't succeed the first time or if your treatment is successful perhaps to try for for the children to add to your family in the future. If you know you do not wish to use these embryos in the future or perhaps they have been in storage for a while, what can happen to these embryos? You can choose to donate them to other people who need to use them in their assisted reproduction journey, you could donate them to research to help further the fields of assisted reproduction or you can choose to have these embryos destroyed. Generally, patients do decide to freeze their leftover embryos for future use. So, when the time comes for them to decide what to do with these embryos now they no longer require them, many will decide to give them up for embryo adoption. In order to be able to donate the embryos for reproductive purposes for other couples, the donor woman must be under the age of 35 and the embryos have very good very good quality. Both partners must be free of pathologies and infections as would be the case for an egg and sperm donation.