Blog > Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET) guide

Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET) guide

If you have undergone an IVF or ICSI, or have embryos frozen from a donor cycle, you may have a number of frozen embryos available to you.

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Written by Apricity Team

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    What is Frozen Embryo Transfer?

    Frozen embryo transfer (FET) is the process of thawing and using these embryos in a new treatment cycle without going through all the steps of IVF or ICSI.

    Why choose frozen embryo transfer?

    Frozen embryo transfer (FET) is the process of thawing and using embryos frozen from previous cycles. It is simpler, less time-consuming and less costly than undergoing an entire IVF or ICSI cycle. Most notably, going through frozen embryo transfer allows you to skip on stimulation and egg collection.

    Frozen embryo transfer can be chosen by anyone who has surplus embryos available to them. Most often, these are women who have undergone previous IVF or ICSI cycles, but other client profiles of frozen embryo transfer include egg donor recipients and women who had a planned embryo freeze for a number of reasons, such as social freezing, risk of OHSS and raised progesterone levels. 

    Frozen embryo transfer can also aid preimplantation genetic testing (PGT, also referred to as PGS), a procedure used to check embryos for a series of genetic diseases or defects. This is often the case if the results of the PGT/PGS are not ready in time for a fresh transfer.

    How does Frozen Embryo Transfer work?

    The procedure for Frozen Embryo Transfer can vary according to where the embryos are stored, and what type of protocol you have. 

    Whether your frozen embryos are stored with us, or you would like them transferred from another clinic, the first step is usually a conversation to discuss what is important to you. The Frozen embryo process is summarised below:


    You will likely start your frozen embryo transfer treatment with a consultation. We offer a variety of medicated and non-medicated protocols for frozen embryo transfer. Your nurse or doctor will advise which one is best suited to you, based on your medical history and past treatment details.


    After your consultation is complete and a plan is in place, our medical team will tell you when to begin medications aimed at temporarily halting your ovarian function. This will prepare your endometrium (womb lining) to accept the embryo. 

    Ultrasounds (and sometimes blood tests) will guide the medical team to decide the appropriate time for the embryo thaw (defrost) and transfer.


    You may have had a transfer before in a fresh cycle, and the procedure is the same from the client perspective. Embryos are thawed and prepared, and transferred to the womb. The procedure takes around 20-30 minutes.

    Unlike egg collection, you will not usually be sedated for embryo transfer. You can eat and drink normally before the procedure. Having a full bladder is not advised, as it may make the procedure more uncomfortable.

    How are embryos transferred?

    To keep the vaginal walls open, a doctor will insert a speculum into the vagina. The doctor will then pass a catheter to the womb through the cervix, and embryos are passed through a tube. Ultrasound imaging is usually performed for guidance.

    Does embryo transfer hurt?

    Embryo transfer does not usually hurt, although it may be uncomfortable. The level of discomfort can be compared to a smear test. If you are concerned about the pain from frozen embryo transfer, please speak to your doctor ahead of the procedure.

    What is the survival rate of thawing embryos? Will all embryos survive the thaw?

    Generally, around 9 out of 10 embryos will survive the freezing and thawing process. Very rarely, no embryos survive. Sometimes, the embryos that survive lose a cell or two. As long as 50% of the original cells survive the thawing, the chances of success will not be significantly affected.

    We will speak to you before and after the embryo transfer, and the embryology team will always be available to advise on the embryo quality which is about to be transferred.

    Frozen embryos versus fresh embryos: which have better success rates?

    Initially, fresh embryos were thought to have better success rates than frozen embryos. However, improvements in embryo freezing techniques have helped frozen embryo transfer success rates increase year after year, making them very similar to success rates with fresh cycles. According to the HFEA, “patients can now be reassured that freezing their embryos gives them as much chance of success as having fresh cycles.”

    Do embryos stored longer have worse rates of success?

    Research around the storage periods is ongoing, but it is not thought that the amount of time that an embryo is in storage affects success. Embryos are stored at around -200°C temperatures and once frozen, do not change.

    How much does frozen embryo transfer cost?

    Our all-inclusive frozen embryo transfer package costs £2,500 and includes all of the items listed below. 

    In October 2019, we compared our pricing to the published price lists of 20 fertility clinics in London. On our FET Treatment Page, you can see which of the items below are not included in most frozen embryo transfer treatment cycle prices on average. For example, medication costs around £1000-2000 per cycle and is usually excluded from the listed cost of frozen embryo transfer. 

    We believe in transparency, so we list our pricing upfront as an all-inclusive figure. This way, our clients can plan their treatment without worrying about unexpected costs. 

    • Medication. Our package covers down-regulation (if required), luteal support and in cycle (preparation) medication

    • Drug delivery at work, home or other location of your choice

    • Treatment planning consultation 

    • Nurse consultation 

    • Blood test at home with self-kit

    • Embryo thawing

    • Embryology (if required)

    • Embryo transfer

    • Endometrial thickness ultrasound scans

    • Hormone monitoring blood tests

    • Pregnancy blood test

    • Early pregnancy ultrasound scan (as applicable)

    • HFEA fee

    • Unlimited supportive counselling

    • Fertility advisor available 7 days a week during extended hours

    • Companion app with treatment overview, medication and appointment reminders, and helpful medical content

    Why Apricity?

    There are a few reasons why we think fertility treatment with us is a great choice for women and couples trying to conceive.

    • Team of distinguished, patient-centric fertility professionals to look after your care

    • Low travel options such as blood tests at home and scans closer by, to enable you to visit the clinic as few as two times, if you choose 

    • Fertility advisors available 7 days a week during extended hours, so you can always get through to someone

    • Unlimited supportive counselling

    • Upfront, transparent pricing

    • Treatment app to help reduce errors and provide treatment overviews and informational guidance

    With Apricity, we’ll ensure you are looked after and supported from Day 1. We can’t eliminate all stress from fertility journeys, but we work very hard to ensure that your treatment is as smooth and comfortable as possible.

    Written by Apricity Team

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