What Are My Options for Unused Embryos After IVF? Mar 11, 2024 | by Miranda Stomp, Case Manager

If You're Undecided On What to Do With Leftover Embryos After IVF, You're Not Alone

Studies show that roughly 40% of patients are unsure of what to do with leftover embryos after IVF. It can be an overwhelming and emotional decision to make, which is why 20% of patients admit that they are likely to postpone the decision indefinitely. If you're looking for closure on your IVF journey and ready to part with your remaining embryos, we're here to discuss your options. 

Rest assured, it's completely understandable and quite common to feel hesitation and reluctance when deciding on embryo disposition.

What Are My Options for Unused Embryos After IVF?

Couples or individuals faced with decisions about their excess embryos typically have six options:

  1. Preserving the embryos for future transfer attempts
  2. Offering the embryos to other hopeful parents
  3. Contributing them to scientific research
  4. Allowing them to thaw and then discarding them
  5. Some clinics offer "compassionate transfer," where embryos are transferred into the uterus during a non-fertile period
  6. Opting for continued storage

Exploring the Option of Donating Embryos After IVF 

Many possible factors contribute to why a couple or individual decides to donate their embryos to others. Typically, embryo donors have had their own long journey overcoming infertility and donate unused embryos to pay it forward and help others build their families. Additionally, many donors believe in the sanctity of life and wish to provide their embryos with an opportunity to exist. 

Donating embryos to be used by other patients has become a more popular option as the need for donations to science has been decreasing; only a handful of programs are still accepting donated embryos for medical research. 

As the embryo donor(s), you are provided with a dignifying and meaningful option to bring closure to your IVF journey while simultaneously helping others pursue their dream of parenthood. 

Considering Donating Embryos to Other Couples?

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 for family-building. However, in recent years, donating embryos to be used by others has become a more accessible option and continues to broaden as awareness grows. 

When you donate embryos with Donor Nexus, we provide you with a complimentary consultation with a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) to ensure that are counseled on your decision and feel supported.

When you choose to donate your unused embryos, you are giving the potential gift of life to a couple or individual who 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.

How to Donate Embryos to Others?

There are several options for donating embryos to be used by others. You can donate through an embryo donation or embryo adoption agency; some fertility clinics also accept donated embryos. At Donor Nexus, we offer a leading embryo donation program with flexible options for open or closed donations and the opportunity to have a say in who receives the embryos, if you wish. We will facilitate the transportation of the embryos to our partner fertility clinic in Southern California.

You choose what you’re comfortable with, and we respectfully manage the embryos accordingly.

We understand that this is a deeply personal and emotional decision, and at times, it may be important to the embryo donor(s) to have a say in the family that receives the embryo(s). With this in mind, we respect 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 donated embryos in our database, we will add your preferences to be seen by the prospective recipients.

Some common requests that we gladly accommodate are: 

  • Donor parents request that the embryos be donated to heterosexual, married couples.
  • Donor parents request that the embryos be donated to LGBTQ+ affirming families.
  • Donor parents request that the embryos be donated to a family of a certain religion.
  • Donor parents are requesting to be informed of the outcome of the embryo transfer.
  • Donor parents are requesting an open ID donation, where contact information will be exchanged once an ongoing pregnancy occurs.

Essentially, we do all that we can to make sure that you are comfortable and confident in your decision. We encourage you to read through testimonials from our donor embryo recipients to see the profound impact that embryo donation makes in the lives of others. If you are interested in donating embryos with Donor Nexus, visit this page to learn more and begin the process.

There are several options for donating embryos to be used by others. You can donate through an embryo donation or embryo adoption agency; some fertility clinics also accept donated embryos.

What If I Found Someone I Want to Donate My Embryos to On My Own?

Donor Nexus also offers Independent Match Coordination to help embryo donor(s) and recipient(s) who have found each other on their own through a referral, social media, online forum, or any other avenue without the help of a third party. As the Agency, Donor Nexus will serve as the Independent Match Coordinator between the embryo donor(s) and embryo recipient(s) as well as their fertility clinics and laboratories. With this service, both parties can be assured that all specifications are being supervised by a team of experienced industry professionals.

Since Our Establishment in 2012, We Have Helped Coordinate Over 1,000 Donor Embryo Cycles

Making an Informed Decision: Frequently Asked Questions →

At Donor Nexus, we aim to provide transparent information to the embryo donor(s) and recipient(s) on the entire embryo donation process and other considerations such as deciding between open ID and anonymous donations. Below, we have answered a few common questions about donating embryos. If you have any additional questions, our team would be happy to discuss your options with you.

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 partner clinic, outstanding cryopreservation/storage fees, clinic administration fee for releasing embryos, and any additional legal fees that may be required. 

Do you get paid for embryo donation? »


No, you do not get paid for embryo donation. 

Do embryo donors get paid? »


No, embryo donors do not get paid. However, as stated above, donors can be reimbursed for specific costs relating to the embryo donation. 

What are the laws regarding embryo storage? »


While some countries (like Australia) have a storage limit of 5-10 years, the United States has no limit on embryo storage. However, storage limits vary depending on the clinic and/or storage facility where your embryos are located. 



What’s the difference between open ID and anonymous embryo donation? »


In an open ID donation, the embryo donor(s) can choose to exchange contact information with the recipient(s). In an anonymous donation, no contact information or identifying information is shared between the donor(s) and recipient(s). Learn more about your options in this blog post: Anonymous vs. Open ID Embryo Donation.

*Please note that although our team adheres to the highest standards to maintain donor and recipient confidentiality when facilitating the cycle, with advancements in commercial genetic testing, we counsel our embryo donors and intended parents to understand that we cannot guarantee permanent anonymity in the future.

What are the legal considerations when donating embryos? »


What are the legal considerations when donating embryos?
Unlike embryo adoption which requires a lengthy process similar to traditional adoption, embryo donation offers a more straightforward process. The recipient(s) will be considered the birth and legal parent of the child/children born from the donor embryo(s).


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