Embryo freezing is a procedure that allows people to store embryos for later use. A person can also freeze eggs, which are not fertilized. An embryo forms after fertilization and after the cells start to divide.
The first successful pregnancy resulting from freezing a healthy embryo took place in the 1980s. Since then, many people have frozen embryos and used them later.
A person may decide to store an embryo if they hope to become pregnant in the future, to donate to others, for medical research, or for training purposes.
The process begins by using hormones and other medications to stimulate the production of potentially fertile eggs. A doctor then extracts the eggs from the ovaries, either for fertilizing in a lab or for freezing.
Successful fertilization may lead to at least one healthy embryo. A doctor can then transfer the embryo to the womb, or uterus. If the treatment is successful, the embryo will develop.
Fertilization often results in more than one embryo, and the doctor can freeze and preserve the remaining embryos.