Yes, you read that title correctly! We’re doing our Frozen Embryo Transfer! At the time of writing this… we have not told our friends or family. I haven’t even updated my Instagram about it yet. Reason being: we want to surprise our family with the news if it results in a BFP (Big Fat Positive)!
Okay so let me rewind. Back in April we were in an IVF Clinical Trial that our clinic was hosting. Technically, we were told our IVF cycle had failed due to only getting 2 eggs (and 1 embryo) during the retrieval. We were obviously heartbroken – but hopeful – because we had another IVF cycle lined up that was sponsored by the clinical trial. HOWEVER, a bomb was dropped on our heads.
Tuesday, May 14th, I got a call from the fertility clinic. I was excited because MAYBE that was the confirmation that the paperwork had gone through and we could start our next IVF cycle. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case. It was our doctor on the phone this time (I’m used to the nurses calling me) and they gave us the news. “The trial is requiring you to use your frozen embryo before they give you the next trial”. WHAT?!
“But we were told we shouldn’t transfer SO we could get the next cycle”
“Yeah we didn’t know they required you to use your embryos a.k.a exhaust your resources”
My heart broke, then was excited, then was sad again, then back to happy. All kinds of emotions were flowing through me. I wanted to transfer our Embryo back at the end of April when we discussed the next steps with our doctor… but we decided against transferring so we could use the next IVF cycle to our advantage. The catch was, we have a 6-month time frame to use the IVF cycle they were giving us. So if we transferred our ONE embryo, and it takes, yes that’s a GREAT thing to happen – but we would lose the IVF cycle.
(NOTE: We wanted to use our IVF cycle because it would be sponsored and we wanted to get more embryos for the future. We’ve always talked about having more than one baby, so this is where our hearts were at the time. If we lose the cycle, that means any future children would need IVF and that would cost us out-of-pocket. Hope this makes sense!)
Ultimately, after hearing the news that we essentially are being forced to use our embryo, we decided to go for it.
I asked my nurse a ton of questions about it though. What happens if it doesn’t take? The embryo doesn’t survive the thaw? What if I have a miscarriage? I realize these were all negative questions but I needed to cover all the bases. Thankfully, we will still get the IVF cycle if any of those scenarios take place. Knowing there is a Plan B in place, it lifted so much weight off my shoulders.
Starting Our IVF FET Cycle
FET (Frozen Embryo Transfer) would start at my next cycle – per the instructions given to me during that call on May 14th. I quickly looked at my tracker and low-and-behold! My cycle was estimated to start less than a week later.
Cycle arrived on May 20, 2019 and I was scheduled to come in for my baseline appointment the next day. The appointment was pretty standard. I had my blood pressure and temperature checked, then had another physical from the doctor which included a breast exam and pelvic exam.
My nurse came in with instructions for me to start taking Estrace (Estradiol). I was instructed to take 6mg a day (3 pills twice daily, 12 hours apart) for the next 10 days. My next monitoring appointment was scheduled for May 31, 2019.
Estrace (or Estradiol) is used to thicken the uterine lining to prepare for embryo implantation.
FET Monitoring Appointment + Uterine Lining Check
May 31, 2019 – The last 10 days have been slow and draining to say the least. The estradiol has been making me CRAZY. Side effects aside, I was nervous about our FET being delayed.
The goal of this monitoring appointment is to check the uterine lining. Uterine lining needs to be at least 8mm to progress to the next stage and get ready for the transfer. If your uterine lining isn’t thick enough, your body most likely won’t receive an embryo. Thick uterine lining = happy environment for an embryo to implant.
I’ve never had issues with my uterine lining in the past so I wasn’t sure why I was so nervous about it. Thankfully, my worries were put to rest real quick.
My lining measured at 11.78mm!
YES! This means the start of Progesterone in Oil injections.
My nurse came in with a big bag of goodies for me… a.k.a the syringes, gauze, alcohol pads, and PIO (progesterone in oil) vials! She then gave me the instruction sheet to start daily injections starting June 1, 2019.
PIO Injections Begin
For those who may not know, Progesterone is a natural hormone the female body produces after ovulation to prepare the body for pregnancy. Essentially, it stimulates the growth of blood vessels in the womb and triggers glands in the endometrium to secrete nutrients for the embryo.
Since you aren’t going to be ovulating during a Frozen Embryo Transfer cycle, your body will solely rely on the supplements and medications given during the cycle. Progesterone in Oil injections are given 5 days before scheduled 5-day Blastocyst transfer.
My first injection wasn’t bad at all. I didn’t feel it (thanks to having a big butt!) and I didn’t experience any lumps or pain afterward. However, shortly after the shot, I did experience a headache.
Injections are daily until pregnancy test. My clinic scheduled our pregnancy test 10 days after transfer. If the pregnancy test is positive, then injections will continue until about 9 weeks gestation. If negative, then nurses will give instructions (usually means to stop PIO).
Embryo Transfer Day
Our embryo transfer was scheduled on June 6, 2019. Check out how our embryo transfer went!
Frozen Embryo Transfer Timeline
So, How long does a frozen embryo transfer cycle take? All-in-all, a frozen embryo transfer cycle is a lot shorter and not as intense as an IVF cycle. The cycle lasted four total appointments: baseline, uterine lining check, embryo transfer day, and pregnancy test. The total cycle lasted about 4 weeks.
- May 21, 2019 – Start of Cycle. Start Estradiol for 10 Days.
- May 31, 2019 – Uterine Lining Check. Continue Estradiol.
- June 01, 2019 – Start PIO Injections. Continue Estradiol.
- June 06, 2019 – Embryo Transfer Day! Continue PIO and Estradiol.
- June 16, 2019 – HCG Beta Test (Pregnancy Test!)
This was just from my personal experience and there are different protocols depending on what kind of infertility you are dealing with.
I hope this post has helped you in some way if you are about to do a frozen embryo transfer cycle, yourself! Every protocol is different but just know that embryo transfer cycles are a lot more enjoyable and exciting!