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What do couples do with embryos after assisted reproduction?

On Behalf of | May 17, 2024 | Assisted Reproduction

Growing a family through assisted reproductive technology (ART) often involves the use of outside help and the creation of embryos. Aspiring parents who want to work with the surrogate may create and store numerous embryos with the hope of a healthy birth.

After a successful attempt at assisted reproduction, couples may still have numerous remaining embryos. They may then have to decide what steps to take next. What are the options available for new parents who still have embryos stored with a fertility healthcare provider?

Continuing to grow their family

Provided that the couple is in agreement about the desire to have additional children and their finances allow for it, it may be possible for them to add additional children to their family using the remaining embryos in storage. This option is the most natural choice for many but may not be realistic for everyone.

Donation of the remaining embryos

The second option that people may find reasonable is the option of donating their embryos. There are two different ways to donate viable embryos when a family does not want to pursue another round of assisted reproduction. Some families donate their remaining embryos to another couple or family that they know wants to have children. Other times, it may be possible to donate embryos for scientific research. Couples may embrace the idea of advancing ART through research or by assisting others in achieving their goals for expanding their families.

Continued embryo storage

Provided the spouses have not decided they are done expanding their family and that they can afford the costs, they may want to continue to store their embryos. With the right care, medical professionals can store embryos for many years even after a successful attempt at assisted reproduction.

Destruction of the remaining embryos

In some cases, couples may not feel comfortable donating their embryos to others or for the purposes of research. They may also already know that they do not want to add to their family or continue to pay storage costs. In those scenarios, couples may request the destruction of any remaining embryos.

Typically, those preparing for assisted reproduction by creating embryos have to sign agreements outlining what may happen with any remaining embryos after successful attempts at reproduction or the termination of a relationship. Individuals who include the right terms in their ART agreements can feel confident about their attempts to grow their family and what happens after they are successful. Exploring every option for the embryos that remain after successful reproduction can help parents feel comfortable about the choices they make, whatever they may be.