Parents Torn Over Fate of Frozen Embryos

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These days, couples are turning more and more towards the act of freezing embryos in order to increase their chances of having children when they become older. This has been a popular method for a while because the age in which couples are having their first child continues to rise throughout the years.

1. How Does This Method Work?

During the procedure a reproductive doctor will remove eggs from the woman’s body while she is ovulating. These eggs will then be fertilized with the sperm from the man and will be frozen after they have successfully been turned into embryos. The embryos can be saved for many years while the couple is preparing to become pregnant.

During-the-procedure-a-reproductive-doctor-will-remove-eggs-from-the-womans-body-while-she-is-ovulatingThere are a number of reasons why couples may want to save their embryos. Some couples are waiting to have children until they are establishing their careers and others are looking to be more financially stable before they decide to have children. Some embryos are created when a woman is required to go through chemotherapy to treat cancer in the hopes that she will still be able to have children after the treatments have been completed.

After a woman is ready to have children, these embryos are then thawed and implanted into the woman’s uterus. The number of embryos that are created can vary from one woman to the next. Also, the number of embryos that are used can be different as well. Frequently, couples find that they have too many embryos and there are some leftover. Determining what to do with these embryos can be difficult to decide.

2. What Are My Options?

After a couple has completed the process of becoming pregnant and have decided that they are no longer looking to have children, deciding what to do with the leftover embryos can be a difficult challenge. Some couples decide to simply discard the embryos while others plan to donate them for other women or to provide them to research facilities.

some-couple-have-decided-that-they-are-no-longer-looking-to-have-children-and-deciding-what-to-do-with-the-leftover-embryos-can-be-a-difficult-challengeHowever, some parents simply cannot make the decision to part with the embryos even after they have decided to no longer have and more children of their own. This leaves some couples in a difficult spot because they are then forced to continue to pay for the storage fees related to the embryos that have been created.

3. Statistics

Currently there are around 400,000 embryos that have been frozen and are being stored at clinics all across country. A recent study that queried fertility patients regarding their feelings on donating embryos showed that over half of these patients were hesitant to donate their embryos because they did not want another parent to raise their children.

Currently-there-are-around-400000-embryos-that-have-been-frozen-and-are-being-stored-at-clinics-all-across-countryAnother fear that these parents had was that their children that they had given birth to would eventually discover that they had a sibling that they were not aware of. Another 43% of the same parents also did not want the embryos to be discarded. They said that it was too difficult to look at their own children and not think about the embryos that had been left behind.

About 66% of those who were questioned said that they were likely to donate their embryos for research and an additional 20% said it was likely that they would continue to pay to store the embryos indefinitely.

4. Why Are So Many Embryos Saved?

The art of thawing out embryos is not a guaranteed thing. Although embryos are expected to remain viable for about a decade after they had become frozen, many of them do not survive thawing process. Because of this, doctors are likely to freeze more embryos than are necessary in order to give the couple a better chance of becoming pregnant in future.


5. Conclusion

In order to avoid issues when you have finished having children, it is best to discuss with your partner what you intend to do with the embryos that have been left over before you begin the procedure. By planning ahead, you will be able to eliminate many of the decisions that come with deciding what to do with your frozen embryos after you have used as many as you wish.

avoid-issues-when-you-have-finished-having-children-by-discussing-it-with-your-partner-on-what-you-intend-to-do-with-the-embryosAlthough many parents would be willing to donate their embryos to research facilities, this is not always a viable option and it is not always available at all centers. If this is something you would consider, it is important that you discuss it with your fertility center before you have your embryos frozen there.

Parents Torn Over Fate of Frozen Embryos, 5.0 out of 5 based on 1 rating

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Dr. Karen Leham, MD

Dr. Karen Leham is double board-certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology and in Reproductive Endocronology and Infertility. Dr. Leham completed her residency at Loyola University, followed by a fellowship at UCLA.