Ultrasound machine

About to start your first short protocol frozen embryo transfer and have no idea what’s about to happen? I’ve been there. I felt absolutely clueless when embarking on our first FET cycle. That’s why I’ve decided to write this blog post all about what’ll happen as you go through the short protocol FET process – in just five easy steps.

All I was really told before the cycle was that it’d be much easier than the fresh IVF cycle. With no injections and no risk of OHSS, I was sold. But still clueless right up until I started because nowhere online *really* explained the process.

Boxes of medication needed for a short protocol frozen embryo transfer

Short Protocol Frozen Embryo Transfer

Just like with fresh IVF cycles, frozen embryo transfers can follow either a long or short protocol. The short protocol is typically followed when there’s no need to shut off the action in your ovaries to prevent ovulation. This is probably the case if you have an ovulatory disorder – such as PCOS.

If you’re going through the short protocol, you won’t have to endure any injections over the course of your frozen embryo transfer cycle.

1. Call Your Clinic on CD1

The first thing you’ll need to do is call your clinic on cycle day 1 (CD1). This is the first day of your period. The clinic will schedule an appointment for your baseline scan. This usually takes place on CD2 or CD3.

If you haven’t already done so by this point, it would be a good idea to pick up your medications so that you’re ready to start taking them following the scan.

2. Attend a Baseline Scan

By now, you’re probably familiar with the scanning process. Before your ‘date with Wanda’, you’ll need to make sure that you have an empty bladder.

A nurse will scan you looking for two things: firstly to check that the lining of your womb is nice and thin. Secondly, to make sure that there’s no concerning activity within the ovaries.

Once you’ve been given the go ahead, you’ll be instructed to start taking estradiol. This hormone promoted the womb lining to thicken, while preventing any follicles from growing in the ovaries.

Ultrasound machine

3. Attend your Lining Scan

Roughly twelve days later, you’ll need to go back to the clinic for another scan. This time it’s to make sure that your womb lining is thickening nicely. If it’s at the required thickness for transfer, you’ll get that booked in and be told when to start taking progesterone. If not, you will continue taking the estradiol and may be asked to return for another scan.

4. Take Progesterone

Progesterone should be taken for 5 days before transferring a 5 day embryo. This is an embryo that was frozen 5 days after fertilisation. Once you know the date of your transfer, you’ll be able to count back 5 days to figure out when to start your progesterone. Usually, this is in the form of pessaries. But if you’re known to have low progesterone, you may also be given injections.

During this time, you will continue to take estradiol as well. The frozen embryo transfer will typically take place 17-21 days after starting estradiol after your baseline scan.

5. The Frozen Embryo Transfer

And finally, the day you’ve been waiting for! On the day of your short protocol frozen embryo transfer, you’ll need a full bladder. This is so that it’s easier for the doctor to see what they’re doing via ultrasound.

If you’ve already had a fresh transfer, the process is exactly the same. The doctor performing the transfer will clean your cervix before inserting a catheter into your womb. An embryologist will then thread a smaller catheter containing your embryo up through the original catheter. Once placed in the womb, the catheter will be removed and you’re free to go to empty your bladder!

What next?

For the duration of the two week wait following your short protocol FET, you’ll continue taking both estradiol and progesterone. You may be asked to complete a home pregnancy test or attend your clinic for a blood test to confirm pregnancy. If successful, you’ll carry on with the medication as per your clinic’s guidelines.

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