When it comes to assisted reproduction we often think about IVF or a donation of gametes, that is, egg or sperm donation. But there is another option, often less known: embryo adoption (also known as embryo donation)
Instead of creating embryos from scratch in the lab, like in IVF or egg donation, the embryos that are already created and frozen in storage are “adopted” and transferred.
Often in assisted reproduction processes some embryos are created but not transferred, maybe because the parents already had a child from another of the generated embryos, or because many embryos were created – too many to transfer. In those cases, the option is given to the parents: would you like to donate your embryos? If so, they remain frozen in the clinic’s lab.
They can be the result of a double donation, a single donation, or just surplus embryos of a couple. It is known what the phenotype -that is, the physical characteristics- of the biological parents are, so the embryo can be matched to new parents according to their physical characteristics.
How does it work?
The embryo donation treatment is exactly the same as any frozen embryo transfer treatment.
In fact, the embryos are already created and frozen, normally on day 5 (blastocyst stage). Nowadays most clinics have the lab capacities to culture the embryos up to the blastocyst stage: those that arrive to that stage have good chances of implanting.
So the treatment would be an endometrial preparation, the same as with any frozen embryo:
- The patient starts taking medication on the first days of her period (if menstruating). The medication is normally estrogen pills or patches to thicken the endometrium, that is, the lining of the uterus in which the embryo will implant. She will follow the treatment for around 10-12 days and then she’ll have an ultrasound around day 12 to make sure that the endometrium is thick enough to allow implantation (around 7mm) and that she has not ovulated (sometimes an extra medication is administered to avoid a spontaneous ovulation). If everything is fine, she’ll start taking progesterone (generally vaginal pessaries) 5 days before the transfer.
- The embryo is thawed on the same day of the transfer, and transferred into the uterus.
With a bit of luck, it will implant.
- The pregnancy test in the blood is done around 12 days after the transfer; it measures a hormone called Beta-hCG (β-hCG), produced in pregnancy.
If pregnant, the patient will continue with the medication (estrogen and progesterone, and maybe in some cases some more meds if necessary) as a support until the pregnancy is well established, which is normally around week 12.
Then she will stop the medication, because her body will be able to maintain the pregnancy on its own.
Embryo adoption is a nice way to have a baby, it is rewarding, the process is often quicker and less expensive.
Science gives the possibility to challenge infertility issues and the natural changes that arrive with age and time. It is not always a quiet and calm ride, but we are here to help find the best way to face it.
At Redia IVF, we work with the best IVF clinics worldwide to achieve excellent results and ensure that patient care is excellent, so the journey is pleasant and the outcome is achieved.