Frozen embryo transfer: Making pregnancy possible on your timeline

If fertility issues have prevented you from having children, consider UW Health's Generations team of experts. A frozen embryo transfer is just one way we can help improve your chances of building a family.


Making pregnancy possible on your timeline

At Generations Fertility Care, we use advanced techniques to give you the best chance of getting pregnant.

A frozen embryo transfer can increase your chances of getting pregnant. Whether you are trying to have your first baby or add more children to your family, using a frozen embryo may help.


What is a frozen embryo transfer?

During the treatment, your fertility team implants a frozen embryo from an earlier in vitro fertilization (IVF) into your uterus at just the right time.

For a pregnancy to develop, a fertilized egg must implant into the lining of the uterus. 

We use frozen embryo transfer in different situations.

With this process you freeze embryos after an IVF cycle rather than implanting them right away. Delayed embryo transfer may increase your chances of pregnancy. For some women, IVF treatments alter the levels of progesterone the body makes. This hormone controls the thickness of the uterine lining. If the lining does not develop properly, it cannot support a fertilized egg. When you give your body time to recover from the stress of an IVF treatment, hormone levels normalize. You can then implant embryos with a greater chance for success.

When you want to get pregnant again, you can use frozen embryos from a past IVF treatment. This means you do not need to go through follicle stimulation, egg retrieval and additional laboratory procedures and costs.

Frozen vs. fresh embryo transfer

Your fertility care team will recommend the best embryo transfer process for you. Your doctor evaluates all aspects of your fertility before making a decision.

Your eggs are retrieved and fertilized during an IVF cycle. The embryos develop for five days. The doctor then transfers healthy embryos back into your uterus.

You complete an IVF cycle. Embryos develop for five to seven days. If needed, genetic tests are performed on the embryos. These tests screen for chromosomal and/or genetic conditions. The embryos are cryopreserved (frozen) while awaiting the genetic testing .

Treatment process

How we prepare for frozen embryo transfer

When you decide it’s time to transfer your embryos, your doctor begins the process for frozen embryo transfer.

The steps include:

  • A pre-medication ultrasound to check your uterus for any cysts or other conditions that would affect implantation

  • You will need to grow the uterine lining before the embryo can be transferred. Your doctor will pick the best protocol for you. This could involve taking estrogen, using FSH injections or a natural cycle

  • A repeat ultrasound (sometimes more than one) to check the uterine lining

When your uterine lining is ready, you go to the fertility clinic for the embryo transfer. You do not need anesthesia during the transfer. You go home the same day. 

On implant day

Here’s what happens on implant day:

  • Embryos are thawed (this takes about 1 hour)

  • Embryos are checked for health

  • Your embryologist places the embryos into a catheter and hands to the doctor

  • Ultrasound is used to guide the catheter through cervix and into the uterus

  • The embryos are placed in the uterus

  • The catheter is removed

You will keep taking estrogen and progesterone if prescribed by your doctor. Your fertility team will provide instructions on follow up care and when the timing is right to confirm if the embryo has implanted resulting in a pregnancy.

Meet our team

Fertility experts close to home

The fertility team at UW Health’s Generations Fertility Care includes experts in embryology, fertility and reproduction.

Our providers


Conveniently located

We provide frozen embryo transfer treatments at Generations Fertility Care in Middleton.