A 3D model of an embryo surrounded by sperm

Fertility Treatment and Family Planning (aka Batching)

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Definition of batch:

gerund or present participle: batching
1. arrange (things) in sets or groups.

You may be asking yourself, “What does “batching” have to do with fertility treatment?” Great question — one that often comes up for the first time when you’re in your doctor’s office. Here’s a bit of background to help you understand the concept and think about whether it’s right for you.

Many people dream of having more than one child before they realize they have fertility challenges. After months or years of trying on their own and often by the time they arrive at a fertility clinic, their perspective has changed: by then, they are focused on trying to have one child.

Although it’s important to be realistic about your treatment, it’s also important to keep your initial goals for a family in mind before starting treatment. This way, your doctor can help you develop both a short- and long-term plan that may involve batching if you know you ultimately want more than one child.

What is batching (aka family planning)?

Batching, often referred to as ‘family planning’ in the context of fertility treatment, is an approach that involves several stimulation cycles, enabling a patient to bank enough good quality embryos for more than one transfer, more than one pregnancy.

The benefits of this strategy include increasing the number of good quality embryos available for frozen embryo transfer to give the patient a better chance for additional future pregnancies. Batching is also a way to increase the total number of embryos in someone with low ovarian reserve (someone who makes only a few oocytes per stimulation cycle).

You can also think of batching as a way to preserve the biological age of your embryos. For example, a patient may be 34, 35 or 36 years old when they come to TRIO to begin their fertility journey. If they get pregnant at age 37, they will be close to 38 when the baby is born. They may want to wait another six to nine months after the first baby is born before they come back to try again. However, they are now closer to 39 years old, and the viability of eggs diminish with age.

With batching, the patient would do more than one fresh cycle while they are still 34 years old, ‘batch’ a larger number of embryos at that time and come back for frozen embryo transfers with embryos that are chronologically still 34 years old, since they have literally been frozen in time at that age. These batched frozen embryos, since they are ‘younger’, may provide a better opportunity for a second pregnancy.

Who benefits from this approach?

Many people benefit from this treatment approach, including:

  • Those who know they want to try for more than one baby as they begin a fertility journey
  • Those who want to try for a sibling for a first child
  • Patients who are beginning their IVF journey in their mid-to-late 30s and want to bank a number of good quality embryos before their fertility declines
  • 2SLGBTQIA+ patients who want to ensure that siblings are genetically related when they obtain donor eggs or sperm
  • Someone with low ovarian reserve.

How does batching work?

Embarking on more than one stimulation cycle — for example, one OHIP funded and one private cycle — offers the possibility of an increased number of embryos that can be frozen at the beginning of a fertility journey and transferred later, at the convenience of the patient, providing more chances for one healthy baby, or additional genetically related siblings for a first child.

Thinking ahead to the future, 2SLGBTQIA+ patients using donor egg or sperm may want to batch enough embryos from their donors ahead of a first pregnancy so that any additional children are genetically-related siblings, that is, from the same egg or sperm donor.

If you think batching may be right for your family planning goals, please talk to your TRIO fertility specialist during your first or subsequent appointments. Together, you can discuss this approach and whether it is right for you.