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Considering the FET?

Many women undergoing in in vitro fertilization think of a frozen embryo transfer (FET) as the the thing you do the second time around. The first time, you use fresh embryos and transfer one or two in the hopes that they will implant. Then you freeze the rest of the embryos and save them for later, when you are ready to add a sibling.

Studies have shown, however, that frozen embryo transfer may be something to consider as the first option. A 2011 study found that FET led to larger, heavier babies. And a more recent meta-analysis found that the chance of a clinical pregnancy is around 30 percent higher when all embryos are frozen for later transfer than with fresh embryo transfer.

These days, embryos are frozen with a newer technique called "vitrification." Embryos are placed into a solution and then rapidly freezes it in liquid nitrogen, thus increasing the cooling rate and preventing the formation of ice crystals. Then the embryos are transferred in a later cycle with fewer drugs to prepare the uterine lining for implantation —or even during a "natural" cycle, in which no drugs are used at all. The transfer at a time when the uterus is better prepared to receive the embryo may be one reason why FET is showing great success.

FET is rapidly becoming an option to consider when undergoing fertility treatment. You may want to ask your fertility doctor about the process and whether it is right for you.

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