Before I had my initial FET (frozen embryo transfer) consultation, I was clueless as to how it all worked. A FET is a “cycle in which the frozen embryos from a previous fresh IVF or donor egg cycle are thawed and then transferred back into the woman’s uterus”. (link) I was assured that it was less invasive, less expensive, and required far less appointments and meds compared to IVF (which I did 2.5 years ago). Sounds kind of amazing.
Since my 6 embryos are frozen in time (at 35 years old) and have great ratings, my doc was very optimistic that a FET would work. However, reading up on the success rate, it kind of took the wind out of my sail (stop googling, Camella)… I read that doing a FET is about the same as doing IVF, which is about 60% for someone between the ages of 35-40 (higher for those younger and obviously much lower for those over the age 40). Not as high as we had hoped.
I thought the thawing process would take away from its viability, but that is not the case as thawing a healthy blastocyst has a 90+% success rate (according to my doc). My husband and I talked about putting 2 embryos in to raise our chances (but of course are then terrified of twins at this stage). It all is starting to sound so real and I can’t help but start to feel anxious all over again.
Every fertility clinic is different naturally, but this will be the FET path I will take. And because our insurance changed recently and they don’t cover infertility (boo!), everything will be out of pocket, so I have included rough costs as well (since so many have asked).
Preparation for FET:
- Sonohysterogram (SHG)– Saline Water Test- a “mock” transfer is what they call it. Done before starting meds during a time when I’m not ovulating or menstruating. My uterus gets filled with saline to check if it has changed in shape since my last pregnancy, to detect any blockages in my tubes, check the uterine lining, and for polyps and fibroids. By measuring my uterus, they are able to know exactly where to drop the embryo during the transfer. Like hitting a target on the bullseye. ($750)
- Ultrasound– around day 21 of menstrual cycle to check for any cysts or polyps and get a feel as to what my uterine lining looks like after I’ve ovulated. Need to make sure the embryos new home is not tainted during that magic week of my cycle. ($120)
- Medication– to begin on the 1st day of my next menstrual cycle. No injections this time. Hurray! They prescribe me estrogen patches (Estradiol) and progesterone gel suppositories (Crinone) because that was the exact same meds I had taken the first time I did IVF, which worked well with my body. Only bummer part is that the first time my insurance covered most of it… this time, not so much. I got charged a whopping ($1750). Ouch. Apparently other brands are a lot cheaper, they just didn’t want to take the risk. For almost 2k, I could get an amazing new handbag.
- Blood Test– After 3 days of starting meds, I take a blood test to show my progesterone and estrogen levels to see how my body is handling them. They then can make adjustments. ($150)
- Blood Test II– More blood work before transfer to make sure my body is ready to rock. They are tricking my body in thinking it’s pregnant so it’s perfect for implantation (sounds so sci-fi). ($150)
- The FET– ($1500-$2000) 3 weeks after starting my meds, the transfer will take place. From what I remember, that part was a walk in the park. A little valium, a little prodding… and then… the 2 week wait… which, let’s face it, is the worst part of it all.
- Post-Tests– To check HCG and progesterone levels as well as ultra sounds to see the sac and the sac growth. (they say it should grow 1mm per day). 2-3 visits minimum ($250-$350 each)
After adding the costs together, a FET can cost anywhere between $4000-$6000. It’s expensive, but it’s significantly less than undergoing IVF, which costs more than double. Why I waited to do a FET is beyond me. Oh yea… fear, not being ready, anxiety, afraid of failure… those are valid reasons… but after being informed about the procedure, I felt confident and optimistic and I was ready to start the process.
Ok period… I’m ready for you now, then I can start my meds and get on with this…