Deciding What to Do With Embryos After IVF

So, you have leftover embryos after IVF and you’re now feeling the stress of having to decide what to do. You’re not alone. According to studies, 71% of couples had not decided what they were going to do with their unused frozen embryos after storing them for an average of 4.2 years.

If you have decided that you have no use for the leftover embryos, have you considered the option of donating embryos to other couples or individuals?

Why Donate Unused Frozen Embryos?

In this blog, we review the options of what to do with leftover embryos after IVF. Learn more now!Infertile couples and individuals need embryos. Research shows that of the estimated 600,000 cryopreserved embryos in the U.S., less than 15% are donated to be used by others. However, in recent years, donating embryos to be used by others has become a more accessible option. Donor Nexus, among other embryo donation agencies, has pioneered an advanced program that provides a solution for both donors and recipients. As the embryo donor, you are provided with a dignifying and meaningful option to bring closure to your IVF journey while simultaneously helping another family overcome infertility. There are many hopeful intended parents searching for the perfect donor embryo, eager to give the embryo a chance at life.

Helping Others Achieve Their Dreams of Parenthood

For these couples or individuals who are unable to conceive naturally, embryo donation provides them with a hopeful option to pursue their dreams of building or adding to their family. Essentially, their future family depends on the kindness of strangers.

When you choose to donate your unused embryos, you are giving the potential gift of life to a couple or individual that has been fighting for that “maybe baby” for a long time. The embryos were created with the goal of creating a life, and donating your unused embryos carries on that dream.

Fortunately, donating embryos to other patients has gained popularity in recent years as the need for donations to science has been decreasing; only a handful of programs are still accepting donated embryos for medical research. This makes sense as donating to science has been a popular option in the past, meaning labs now have ample embryos accessible for research and training purposes. 

Making an Informed Decision

Understandably, when you are focused on creating embryos with the hopes of building or adding to your family, it’s difficult to imagine how you will feel afterwards when you realize that you have leftover embryos. 

Here at Donor Nexus, we aim to inform both donors and recipients on the embryo donation process to do our part in making sure you are able to confidently choose if donation is right for you. Listed below are some of the most common questions we hear regarding donating embryos to others. 


Can you sell your frozen embryos?
No, you cannot sell your frozen embryos. It is illegal in the U.S. to pay for an embryo. However, donors are typically reimbursed for specific costs relating to the donation. Donor Nexus covers all shipping costs to transfer the embryos to our clinic, cryopreservation/storage fees, and any additional legal fees that may be required. 


What are the laws regarding embryo storage?
While Australia and the U.K. have a storage limit of 5-10 years, the United States has no limit on embryo storage. This is a good solution for couples who plan on personally using their embryos at a later time. However, many couples will decide that they do not want any more children, yet continue to pay the annual storage fee as a way to postpone the decision of what to do with the unused embryos.


What’s the difference between known (open) and anonymous embryo donation?
In an open donation, you can choose to exchange contact information with the donor recipients. In a closed donation, you choose not to have contact with the recipients. Generally, at Donor Nexus, we facilitate closed, anonymous donations. However, we prioritize your preferences and will be happy to assist in facilitating an open donation if that’s what you choose. Learn more about your options in this blog post: Anonymous vs. Open Embryo Donation (and the "In-Between" Options).


What are the legal considerations when donating embryos?
Unlike embryo adoption, there are no complicated or perilous legal issues surrounding the use of donor embryos for embryo donation cycles. The recipients, known as the birth parents, are the legal parents of the child. 


If you have any additional questions regarding donating unused embryos, our team would be happy to discuss your options with you.

IVF Leftover Embryos - Our Process 

We understand that this is a very important and difficult decision, and we understand that it’s common for donors to have hopes for the family that may be welcoming their embryo to life in the future. With this in mind, we respect and accommodate any preferences you have when it comes to placing your leftover embryos into the right family. 

When you donate embryos to Donor Nexus, we work with you to ensure that all your desires for the future of your embryos are understood. When we list the embryos in our database, we will add in your preferences to be seen by the intended parents searching the database.

Some common requests that we gladly accommodate are: 

  • Donor parents requesting that the embryos be donated to heterosexual, married couples.
  • Donor parents requesting that the embryos be donated to same-sex couples.
  • Donor parents requesting an open donation, known donation, or anonymous donation
  • Donor parents requesting that the embryos be donated to a family of a certain religion.
  • Donor parents requesting to be informed of the outcome of the embryo transfer.

Essentially, we do all that we can to make sure that you are comfortable and confident in your decision. Are you interested in donating unused embryos? To learn more or submit your information, please visit this page.

Still unsure if embryo donation is for you? Click here to read testimonials and stories from donor embryo recipients (intended parents).

Read this blog on Creating A Family for the perspective of an intended parent in this situation.

Get in Touch

We are always here to answer any questions you may have. Contact us today to start your journey!