Lab Oftentimes, when a couple goes through in vitro fertilization (IVF), they can receive a fresh embryo transfer and there can be additional embryos that remain. Alternatively, some patients will need to store all the embryos and replace them in a later cycle if they are at risk for Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS). The ART Fertility Program of Alabama offers patients the option of using cryopreservation to freeze those embryos. This has become the preferred method of caring for excess embryos by many couples as it increases the possibility of achieving pregnancy at a later date. Use of cryopreserved embryos reduces the cost and inconvenience of additional egg and sperm retrieval processes. The alternative to cryopreservation is anonymously donating unused embryos or limiting the number of eggs inseminated to the number of embryos to be transferred. It is the patients’ choice to determine the outcome for their embryos.

Cryopreservation is performed using a computer-controlled freezer. The embryos are then stored in separate containers immersed in liquid nitrogen until they are used. Prior to cryopreservation, a couple must be screened. This screening includes, but is not limited to, HIV, Hepatitis B and C, HTLV and Syphilis. These tests must also be repeated six months following cryopreservation. These tests are required for compliance with American Tissue Banking Standards.

Frozen embryos will be stored for up to five years. A long-term storage cryobank is available to couples who choose to store embryos after this time. If a couple chooses to discard their excess embryos, they have the legal right and the option to do so. If a couple chooses to donate their excess embryos, the ART Fertility Program of Alabama, at this time, donates to infertile couples.

The first frozen embryo transfer (FET) was in 1989 at the ART Fertility Program and resulted in a healthy baby that same year, using an embryo frozen in 1987.


The ART Fertility Program of Alabama is located in Birmingham, Alabama with additional locations in Huntsville, Montgomery and Tuscaloosa. The program is led by Dr. Kathryn Honea, Dr. Virginia Houserman and Dr. Chris Allemand who are Board Certified specialists in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility. All are skilled in comprehensive infertility care and offer a complete range of infertility services.

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