One of the options for patients undergoing In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) techniques with remaining embryos, meaning high quality embryos that can be cryopreserved for the future, is to donate these embryos to other couples for reproductive purposes. In most cases, these embryos come from couples that have gone through double donation treatments (egg and sperm), and after achieving their goal of becoming parents, decide to donate their embryos so that other couples can achieve their own.

What are the advantages of adopting these embryos?

First of all, there is no waiting list. The embryos are cryopreserved and only an adequate endometrial preparation is required to proceed with the embryo thawing and transfer, all in the same day. We always try to assign the embryos that are most compatible with the blood type and physical characteristics, although it is not always possible.

Endometrial preparation treatment is simple and painless. In most cases, it entails applying transdermal oestrogen patches or taking oestrogen tablets and using progesterone vaginal suppositories. A single ultrasound scan is sufficient in order to determine the most appropriate time to schedule the cycle. As such, the number of necessary visits to the clinic decreases considerably. On other occasions, when the doctor determines that it is appropriate, the endometrium can be prepared using a natural cycle. This removes the need for medication and transfer is performed at the most appropriate time.

Thanks to improvements in cryopreservation techniques (vitrification), embryo survival rates reach levels approaching 100% and gestation rates when a single blastocyst is transferred (SBT) are around 55%. Successful implantation rates are around 45%.

Since the treatment does not require compatible female donor selection nor controlled ovarian stimulation processes, and the work performed by the IVF laboratory is limited to thawing, observation and posterior transfer of the surviving embryo, the cost for the patient is also markedly lower.  A wide variety of patients choose embryo adoption. Couples that choose to donate their frozen embryos for moral or religious reasons; couples facing the possibility of double donation as a solution to their reproductive problem choose embryo adoption; single women who decide they want to become mothers; couples that cannot afford the economic cost of other types of treatment, as well as other personal situations.

Finally, embryo adoption presents one further advantage, which in this case is not associated with the couples that adopt, but rather with those that freely donate their embryos. The act of helping other couples achieve their desired pregnancy is an emotional benefit and provides a valuable destination for the embryos that would have remain cryopreserved.

Dr. Dori Rodríguez, biologist of Instituto Bernabeu

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