Embryo transfer is a simple procedure that follows invitro fertilization (IVF) and is often considered the simplest and finalstep of the in vitro fertilization process. The objective of embryo transferis to facilitate conception following fertilization from the in vitro fertilizationprocedure.
When does the embryo transfer procedure occur?
Embryos are generally transferred to the woman’s uterus at the 2-8 cellstage. Embryos may be transferred anytime between day 1 through day 6 afterthe retrieval of the egg, although it is usually between days 2 -4. Someclinics are now allowing the embryo to reach blatocysts stage before transferring,which occurs around day 5.
What is the procedure for embryo transfer?
The patient returns to the clinic to have the embryos transferred. Anesthesiais often not necessary, although a sedative may be used. An ultrasound maybe used to help guide the physician as he transfers the embryos. A predeterminednumber of embryos are loaded into a fine transfer catheter that passes throughthe vagina and cervix, into the uterus. The embryos are deposited from thecatheter into the uterus. Following this procedure, the patient usuallyremains in a recovery room resting on her back and is discharged 4-6 hoursafter the procedure. The couple will then wait and optimistically watchfor early pregnancysymptoms.
What medications may be given along with the procedure?
Progesterone is often the main medication that a woman will continue totake after the embryo transfer. Taking supplemental progesterone will notonly help increase the chances of pregnancy, but progesterone is also vitalto sustain a pregnancy. Progesterone is often discontinued once a pregnancyhas been confirmed and is producing adequate amounts of progesterone onit’s own.
What risks are there with embryo transfer?
There are minimal risks associated with the embryo transfer procedure.The include the loss of the embryos during transfer or implanting the embryosin the wrong place such as the fallopian tubes. Although some women experiencemild cramping, the procedure is usually painless.
Are there any instructions following the embryo transfer procedure?
Once embryos are transferred, there is nothing a patient can do to influencethe outcome of her cycle. Currently, there is no documented evidence asto whether bed rest or continuing normal activities following the proceduremake a difference in the outcome. Some physicians encourage the patientsto rest for twenty four hours. Others suggest returning to normal activitiesas soon as possible. Some patients choose to rest because they think thatby doing so they are improving their chances. Additional rest also givesthem an opportunity to think about the potential baby. Other women electto return to normal activities to help them avoid worrying about thingsthat could go wrong. Together with counsel from the doctor, the state ofyour body and mind should help you decide your course of action.
Again, there is no documented evidence showing that physical activity hasany impact upon embryo implantation or conception. Conception is a naturalevent that depends primarily upon the genetic quality of the eggs.
How many embryos should be transferred?
The number of embryos that should be transferred during any single IVFcycle is subject to debate. Medical experts and writers seem to agree thattransferring no more than four embryos per IVF cycle will yield optimalresults. Transferring more than four is believed to result in excess numbersof multiple pregnancies leading to the increase of other complications.Transferring four embryos instead of only one or two increases the probabilityof pregnancy but with the risk that all four embryos could implant. Afterimplantation, the next step is watching for the signsand symptoms of pregnancy.
Compiled using information from the following sources:
Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART), http://www.sart.org
RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association, http://www.resolve.org
Reproductive Facts.ORG, http://www.reproductivefacts.org