What is done with left over embryos after In-vitro Fertilization?

During the process of IVF (in-vitro fertilization), there may be a few leftover embryos or eggs. The embryos which remain unutilized after in-vitro fertilization are generally used for donation for third party reproduction. During in-vitro fertilization procedure average of ten to thirty eggs may be retrieved after identification, by a procedure called egg retrieval, which is usually done under ultrasound guidance needle piercing the vaginal wall to reach the ovaries.

The eggs after retrieval are incubated along with sperm from the donor (in a ratio of 1:75,000; egg: sperm) in a culture media for 18 hours and in most cases they are fertilized. After fertilization the fertilized eggs are cultured and transferred to the woman. If the woman carries the pregnancy to term and then the unused embryos are called leftover embryos, which are preserved by cryopreservation.

Left over embryos can be donated (with the woman’s or couple’s permission) to a willing third party woman or couple for IVF (third party reproduction of third party IVF). The left over embryos or extra embryos after IVF are donated to couple or women with the goal of producing successful pregnancy/pregnancies. The resulting child legally belongs to the woman who carries the pregnancy and gives birth and the donor woman can not claim the child in future, same as the case of egg donation and sperm donation. The identity of donor as well as the recipient is kept secret.

In most cases the left over embryos are donated to fertility clinics, where they are preserved cryogenically, till a recipient or carrier is found.

Other alternatives for leftover embryos:

There are some other alternatives to the faith of the leftover embryos, such as destruction (this is an option and in case the women who produced the embryos do not want to donate, has to be destroyed), keeping them frozen indefinitely, or donating them to research facilities.

The disposal of extra embryos is dependent on the personal views of the person/individual concerned. Many individuals prefer to donate the extra embryos to research laboratories (especially when they are provided with proper, honest and clear information about the research project) than discarding them.

Image: Clare Bloomfield / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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