What is embryo transfer?
Embryo transfer is simple procedure and the crucial last step in IVF or ICSI process. It involves transferring fertilized embryos into a woman’s uterus for implantation. The embryos are drawn into a fine catheter which is inserted through the cervix, into the uterus. The embryos are then gently released into it. The ultimate goal of a successful embryo transfer is to deliver the embryos precisely to the uterine fundus (the uppermost rounded portion of the uterus) in a location where implantation is maximized.
The procedure is short, usually pain free and rarely requires any sedatives. Some patients report mild cramping and may wish to rest for an hour after the transfer although usually this is not necessary. Progesterone is often the main medication that a woman will continue to take after the embryo transfer as it helps to increase the chances of pregnancy and is also vital to sustaining a pregnancy. This medication is discontinued after 12 weeks of pregnancy.
Prior to the procedure, the number of embryos to be transferred is discussed. It will not exceed the legal maximum of 2 embryos per transfer for women under 40 years of age and 3 embryos per transfer for women over 40 years of age.
Blastocyst culture and transfer
Most of the time, we will recommend to extend the development of the embryo until day five. This is known as the blastocyst stage when the embryo has developed to the point of having 2 different cell components and a fluid cavity. The blastocysts are transferred to the uterus in the same way as for day 3 embryos. A healthy blastocyst will implant within one to four days following a day 5 transfer.
Blastocyst transfer is now fairly common in IVF treatment as it increases the chances of pregnancy per transfer, while decreasing the possibility of multiple births. At Life Clinic, we use the popular blastocyst scoring classification originally developed by Dr. David Gardner in the late 1990’s. Gardner’s classification assigns 3 separate quality scores to each blastocyst embryo and aids selection of the highest quality embryos which would have the highest chances of success. We have the ability to maintain the cultured embryos at top conditions until the day of blastocyst transfer, by using the advanced laboratory equipment and practices as well as using the most advanced culture media in the world.
After the embryo transfer
The procedure that a woman should follow after the embryo transfer is in most cases very simple. So, in cases where the cause of infertility is known and treated, after the embryo transfer we recommend a life as normal as before. There is no scientific evidence that bed rest or abstinence from work and normal daily activities increase the chances of success. However, we take care to adapt this daily routine to the special needs of each woman, with the ultimate goal of being as calm as possible during this period.