What happens to leftover embryos?

When parents succeed with in vitro fertilization, where to the leftover ones go?

What happens to "leftover" fertilized embryos after a couple has a successful pregnancy using fertility treatments?

Many couples who've struggled with infertility, turn to in vitro fertilization. That means thousands of fertilized embryos are being stored in labs across the country, as well as St Louis.

Dr. Molina Dayal with the Sher Fertility Institute in Creve Coeur says embryos can be stored indefinitely. Right now there are no definitive laws on the books when it comes to abandoned embryos. Dr. Dayal believes at some point, this will need to change.

"As IVF treatment becomes more prevalent we're going to have to have very strict, clear guidelines in terms of what we need to do when it comes to these embryos," Dayal says.

Dr. Dayal adds that embryos are generally considered "abandoned" after about 7 years. The Ethics Committee of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine says during that time, there must be "reasonable attempts" to contact an individual/couple.

After that time, the committee says an institution can consider donation (to research or another couple), or possible disposal.


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