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Frozen Embryo Transfers (FET)

Most often a couple will have some embryos frozen from a previous IVF cycle, which they can then use later. It often seems like a good idea to undergo a frozen embryo transfer as it's cheaper and you already have a fertilized egg to transfer. However, according to the HFEA the success rates are very low. Even though it's financially cheaper than a fresh IVF cycle, the emotional cost is the same. If the embryo(s) that were fertilized weren't of the best quality, then it might be worth doing a fresh IVF cycle as it will have a higher rate of success.

The protocol for FET is similar to a regular IVF cycle. More recently, many IVF clinics have started using the long, down regulating cycle for FET. I find this approach heavy-handed. Women undergoing an FET will tend to be more deficient than women undergoing a normal IVF cycle as they will either have children from a previous IVF cycle or will be stressed, anxious and emotional from a previous failed IVF cycle.

Both of these scenarios can cause a deficiency in the woman, which can damage her fertility. Being down regulated damages blood and yin making it hard for the endometrial lining to recover to a good thickness for implantation. In my opinion, a short cycle should be used for FET. Other protocols include giving the woman estrogen (HRT) along with progesterone. This helps to thicken the uterus lining ready for implantation. But again, estrogen supplementation is not necessary unless the uterus lining is less than 8mm in thickness. Taking estrogen only increases the potential side effects of treatment, for example estrogen based cancers. I would therefore only recommend taking estrogen drugs if your uterus lining is less than 8mm.

Acupuncture can help improve the success rates of frozen embryo transfers. I help a lot of women do through this process with good results.