Letting go of frozen embryos - how do you know, what did you do with them?

(33 Posts)
PeterPomegranate Thu 27-Feb-20 12:08:39

We have frozen embryos leftover from successful treatment 5 years ago. Each year we’ve paid the storage fee and invoice time has come round again. We have 2 children and I’m in my mid-40s now so perhaps it’s time to let go but when my husband and I have discussed previously we haven’t been able to decide so we’ve put off for another year.

But it costs hundreds of pounds each year and I’m wondering whether we will ever ‘just know’. How can you be sure 100% there are no circumstances you’d want to try again?

I don’t feel comfortable donating the embryos to another couple and our children having a sibling out there somewhere.

It’s illogical but I feel a bit funny about research or training. But I don’t know whether I could / should overcome that to improve the treatment options we benefited from.

But if not that leaves disposal and I don’t feel great about that either.

I’m interested in other people's experiences / thoughts please?

I’m a bit nervous asking because I know there’s a potential ethical question over creating spare embryos in the first place (we didn’t set out to do that but there were good quality spares and they are stored as standard for possible future treatment), but this is the infertility board so I hope people will be kind.

Thank you.

OP’s posts: |
Flutteringsatlast Thu 27-Feb-20 12:13:11

I know 2 couples who had frozen embryos stored. 1 couple went ahead with the ivf and had another dc early 40 's- after 4 x dc via ivf.
Other ones it turned out he had been a cheat all along and they decided to donate to research their 10.....
Couple 1 said' what ifs 'played a heavy part..
Couple 2 hadn't much choice sadly..

Badgerismyname Thu 27-Feb-20 12:35:07

Personally I find it odd to be against donating embryos to research as the only reason ivf and any medical advances come about is through research, but obviously each to their own.

We’re currently trying for a second through ivf but if we ever get to be in position where we have spare embryos I would give them to Research without a second thought. I don’t think I could ever be ok with donating them to a couple and my DC have a matched sibling somewhere in the world, I wouldn’t be able to cope with that on any level.

Betsyboo87 Thu 27-Feb-20 12:39:43

There was a similar thread on here a while back. I’m sure someone said they were able to bring them home and could bury them under a plant. I appreciate they’re invisible, I guess you get them in a tube with the fluid they’re stored in?

PeterPomegranate Thu 27-Feb-20 15:47:06

Thank you all.

I know research or training is logical but I think what makes me hesitate is an illogical feeling that another embryo could have ended up as our child if the embryologist had made a different choice that day. I know it’s silly.

OP’s posts: |
PeterPomegranate Thu 27-Feb-20 15:49:39

Also if you donate them for research or training the form says ‘donated embryo(s) may be used immediately, remain in storage for any upcoming research project(s) or discarded if not suitable for any ongoing scientific research’ / ‘donated embryos may be used immediately or remain in storage until required for any suitable training’ and I feel weirdly uncomfortable about our embryos potentially still being there for years not being used even though we had said goodbye to them.

I know none of this is sensible.

OP’s posts: |
MayDayFightsBack Thu 27-Feb-20 16:06:13

This is a hard one. I was in a similar position to you and after about five years I realised that the time for me to have children had passed. My husband and I had tried and not been successful and we had moved on, we had a happy life and were very content with being child free. I decided not to pay for storage anymore but we did not donate the embryos as we could not bear the idea of them being brought up or used by anyone else, that just wasn't an option for us. Possibly that was selfish but you can't help how you feel. We weren't given the option of having the embryos back to bury, I would have preferred that.

Just go with what you feel is best for you. I feel more at peace knowing we made the decision and no longer have to think about all this anymore. It was difficult going through it all and it went on for the best part of ten years so it made sense to draw a line under it and move on.


Scottishgirl85 Thu 27-Feb-20 19:28:45

We have 3 spare embryos and 2 children. Multiple times a day I think of our embryos and I honestly think we'll pay for storage until we die!! I am utterly traumatised by the thought of letting them go. We're thinking of trying for number 3 (we're 34 years old) and maybe that'll use them up or if we're lucky to have a 3rd perhaps we'll suddenly feel complete and let the others go. I'm a professional scientist (as is my husband) and usually very rational, but IVF completely messes with my mind!

Our embryos are abroad so storage is incredibly cheap, so maybe that makes a difference too...

EarlGreyT Thu 27-Feb-20 22:14:29

Not sure what we will do with ours if we don’t use them (we probably won’t). They’re donor egg embryos which does affect my thoughts. I feel like we are being ungrateful to our donor if we don’t use them. But then I know we can give our existing child(ren) a better life if we don’t use them - something I also feel is very important not only for our child, but also I think we “owe” it to the amazing donor who has made this even possible.

I’m not sure I can bear the idea of the embryos becoming someone else’s children and our child having a full biological sibling somewhere. However, this feels incredibly selfish as if it wasn’t for our donor it wouldn’t even be possible to have this dilemma. I think we will probably donate them to research, but it feels selfish to destroy them.

So I really don’t know what we will do. We don’t have to make any decisions about them yet, but these thoughts go round and round in my head and I have no idea what the “right” thing to do is.

seeingasyouareclueless Thu 27-Feb-20 22:36:03

I don't think that there is a right answer, other than whatever feels right for you and your partner. It doesn't matter whether others might view your choice as selfish, if it makes sense to you then it is right thing to do. It seems that you have attachment to your embryos, and that is completely valid, they are yours. It's almost impossible to be objective in any situation where there is attachment. Go with whatever works for you, and then do whatever you need to do to help you to process your decision. Best wishes to you that you can settle on making a choice that you are comfortable with.

5zeds Thu 27-Feb-20 22:45:10

We used all of ours and had a large family. I couldn’t have done anything else however ridiculous I know it is.

pinboard Thu 27-Feb-20 22:46:12

I had 5 embryos in storage for 10 years.
My H refused to 'go ahead' (although that was my condition for agreeing to storage in the first place) but he 'changed his mind'.
After 10 years, the HFEA rules are that they have to be donated to another couple, or to research or destroyed. He would not agree to donation so they were eventually destroyed against my will.
I went to collect them from the clinic (in a very small phial).
They are buried now - I had a small ceremony, to try to reach some sort of peace / closure for myself as I found it all very painful.

I hope you can reach a decision you can come to terms with.
It is a very odd position to be in, to decide whether to attempt to 'carry on' trying to make a new life. It is not easy. I wish you well.xx

Blondeshavemorefun Fri 28-Feb-20 07:42:18

We donated ours to medical research

Didn’t feel right dobated my eggs and df sperm and having a whole sibling running about

But totally agree with just donated eggs and have friends and employers who are now Mummy’s after failed own eggs ivf

Eventually our clinic would like to transfer at 10 days and by which would see which embryos multiply and which sadly disintegrate

Used to be 2 at start of ivf. Then many day 3

Most are day 5 now and odd day 6

It’s a personal choice

I felt if others hadn’t donated their embryos for research that ivf wouldn’t be where it is now and I wouldnt have an almost 3yr

The collection of taking home to bury /die sounds a good one

TheMammothHunters Fri 28-Feb-20 07:55:31

We had 2 left, we kept them frozen until I was 40 then decided to let them go.
We donated to research because if others hadn’t done that we wouldn’t have DS.

Fiberoptic Fri 28-Feb-20 08:06:23

pinboard that’s so sad. Are you still with your dh?

OP we had one frozen blastocyst after two successful transfers. I really did not want another child as my two were bad sleepers and I could bare the thought of another three years of going through that plus I do not enjoy being pregnant.

Dh would have loved to go for the last one as he thought it could be a boy - we have three dds. But I’d was done.

So we let them dehydrate it. I just didn’t want that lady blastocyst to be turned in to something else and messed with.

It really is just cells at an embie or blastocyst stage. If your done don’t feel bad about it flowers

Fiberoptic Fri 28-Feb-20 08:07:05

Last** not lady!

caffeinefix Fri 28-Feb-20 08:31:29

I read about a lady in America who already had twins from IVF and had 3 embryos left. She had a 'therapeutic transfer' where they transferred them at the infertile point of her cycle... she got pregnant with another set of twins!

Cauliflower82 Fri 28-Feb-20 09:00:44

This is something I think about a lot too. My husband and I have three good quality embryos leftover and I’m currently 37+1 with our first baby. We’ve decided to store them until I’m 40 - I’m 35 right now. My husband feels passionately about donating them to another couple as we would have happily taken a donated embryo if ever needed. I hope I’m strong enough to go through with this if we do have any spare as I promised God I would. It all makes me so emotional especially knowing I very well think I’ll be happy with just one child. It’s such a hard difficult and personal decision to make. Do your clinic offer counselling on the subject at all?

RubySlippers77 Fri 28-Feb-20 09:27:19

We've recently given permission for our three frozen embryos to be donated for medical research - they've been in storage for 4 years.

We have DTs from the last IVF and although I always thought I'd like another (single!) baby, I realised that realistically we were better sticking with two. Thee DC would have been a big financial impact for us (involving moving house), it would have meant more years for me as a SAHM, the DTs are still small and needy etc. I'm now early 40s, DP is late 40s, and I haven't physically recovered from a traumatic birth.

Having said all that... it was a very hard decision! Probably had we been younger by at least 5 years and/ or storage costs were cheaper, I'd have waited longer before deciding either way - IVF or disposal. And I am a bit sad thinking of the little baby I won't have (although like a PP, my DTs weren't great sleepers, and I don't think I could cope with more years of exhaustion).

@pinboard so sorry to read your story about your 'D'H. What an awful thing to do.

Sending you flowers whatever you decide OP, it isn't an easy choice to make. Our IVF was all NHS funded, hence we donated our embryos to 'give something back' and hopefully help another childless couple.

Success1986 Fri 28-Feb-20 09:35:06

Such a difficult situation to be in with ivf 😔im currently taking drugs for my last frozen embryo and i hope soo much that it works and i wont be faced with this decision. I always thought it would be lovely if they transferred them to the mother at a time when the womb lining it too thin so they can go naturally x

runningme Fri 28-Feb-20 09:39:26

I had one frozen embryo left after my successful IVF. That cycle was a twin pregnancy and I went on to have a further unassisted pregnancy. After the birth of DC3 I was sterilised so decision made that our family was complete.

But I continued to pay for the storage up to the 10 year limit. Considered doing a transfer at a few points - knowing a cycle using one frozen embryo would have very little chance of success but if it had worked then that would be fine.

As with others I didn’t think I could donate it, selfish I know but....

I was left with research and to be fair this did appeal to me having benefited from previous research in this area.

It still took me the whole 10 years to tick the ‘medical research’ box on the form and I only did it then because the continued storage box disappeared.

PeterPomegranate Fri 28-Feb-20 12:06:22

Thanks all for sharing your stories. Especially the difficult ones flowers

I hadn’t ever heard of being able to take the embryos home and bury them under a tree so that’s something new to consider. I assume the clinic would let us if we asked.

You’re right about research enabling improvements in the technology. Our son was transferred as a 5 day blastocyst.

Our younger son was conceived using donor eggs (altruistic donor, we don’t know her) and in fact already does have at least one half genetic sibling somewhere as the donor already had a child (and maybe she’s had more since or donated again). It will be his choice if he wants to try to trace her / any half siblings if he wants to. I guess because her eggs were good quality is why we ended up with spares (the embryos created with my own eggs were poor quality and ivf unsuccessful).

We have two boys and I would have liked a girl but a third child could just as easily be another boy so that’s not a good reason. I find it hard to think of a circumstance where we would want to have another child at this point, especially at my age. But will I ever get over that niggling ‘what if’.

Yes the clinic offers counselling and we had a couple of sessions during treatment previously. I’d say it was ‘ok’ so I don’t know if we’d want to do that. I can imagine my husband rolling his eyes too.

I need to have a proper chat with my husband. We could afford to pay for another year so we’ll do that if we really can’t decide (again!)

I really do appreciate everyone sharing your very thoughtful and helpful perspectives. Thank you.

OP’s posts: |
Blondeshavemorefun Fri 28-Feb-20 13:37:36

@pinboard so you had ivf to get eggs then had then all frozen as he refused to sign consent to use them if that right ?

He wouldn’t allow you to have a fet or normal transfer after ec ?

So wrong the clinics allow this

R.E.M. Df has to sign to agree to using the embryos for our fet

sandscript Fri 28-Feb-20 14:06:50

Interesting thread.

I have 2 DC and we have 2 good quality embryos in storage. Like you OP and many other on here we pay the £350 storage fee (urgh 😭) year after year even though we are fairly sure we are done having children.

I'd love to donate them to science or even a couple, but DH is totally against this so I have to respect his wishes.

I suspect we will pay the storage fee for a long long time to come.

pinboard Fri 28-Feb-20 17:45:08


We had 1x sucessful cycle, 1x negative (the clinic stuffed up royally so offered us another 'free' cycle). On that 3rd cycle we got 7 embryos. Mindful of the disaster of the 2nd and that it woud be our very last try, the clinic advised that we freeze 5 of them. I remember it well, we got a phone call and were told we had 'around 20 mins to decide' (this was back in 2007).
H and I talked and I told him I didn't feel I could do that unless we agreed that they would be used at some point in the future. He agreed. The 5 went into storage. He then changed his mind. He had a right to do that I guess but it was very hard for me. And he dragged it out for nearly 10 years, each time we spoke of it it was 'maybe next year'. We are no longer together (not just this reason but partly this)

I DO feel it is a very difficult phenomenon and I know a number of couples who've had real trouble over this. Not so many years back, there was no issue re 'freezing' a (potential?) life. I am grateful for the science that made my children possible but it can be an emotional minefield that's for sure.

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