Embryo Transfer

Embryo transfer – What is it?

Embryo transfer is carried out after your eggs are collected and fertilized in the laboratory.

Depending on your situation and the health of the organs of your reproductive system, between one and three embryos of the best quality are chosen to be transferred to your uterus.

An embryo must implant itself in the uterine lining of your womb, for beginning the pregnancy.

How does it work?

The precise method for embryo transfer will all depend on the Clinic you select for the purpose. However, the usual procedure involves the following steps:

  • Step No. 1

After the lapse of two or three days after the eggs are fertilized; the embryos of exceptionally good quality are chosen for transferring to your uterus.

If you are under the age of 40, just one or two embryos may be transferred.

If you are 40, or crossed it over, the upper limit of embryos to be transferred may be ‘three’. In case you are using donated eggs, the maximum of ‘two’ embryos are transferred.  (It is presumed that the egg donor will be less than 35 years of age. The younger the donor, the better it is of the embryo quality.)

If you happen to have a number of good quality embryos beyond the maximum limit of embryo transfer, the leftover embryos are generally frozen.

Some clinics also recommend blastocyst transfer, wherein embryos are moved into the uterus five-six days later after fertilization.

  • Step No. 2

The doctor performing the embryo transfer places a speculum in your vagina. This procedure is similar to that of a cervical smear test wherein the speculum is used for keeping your vagina’s walls apart.

With the ultrasound guidance, a catheter (a fine tube) is inserted through the cervix of your uterus. The embryos are moved down the catheter into the uterus.

This is generally a pain-free method wherein sedation is not required. But you may feel a modest uneasiness as you require a full bladder while using Ultrasound.

  • Step No. 3

After the embryo transfer procedure, leading a gentle lifestyle is strongly recommended.

  •  Step No. 4

 After about two weeks of the embryo transfer, you will be required to undergo pregnancy tests. If the test is found to be affirmative, you may undergo scanning test nearly two weeks later.

Risks of embryo transfer?

There are hardly any significant risks pertaining to the embryo transfer procedure.

In case you never had a child before or if the cervical canal has not been evaluated before performing the IVF cycle, there may rarely be problems in placing the catheter through the cervix of your uterus for embryo transfer.

While it is feasible to widen the cervical canal at the embryo transfer time, your doctor may prefer to avoid such interferences at this juncture.

In some rare cases, your doctor may postpone the embryo transfer in your interests and prefer freezing (cryopreservation) the appropriate embryos until your cervix has adequately been stretched.

There are considerable risks in case more than single embryos are moved. You may like to consider just a single embryo transfer.

Freeze-all cycles – what is it?

Freeze-all cycles entail freezing all your embryos in a cycle and awaiting their transfer these at a later stage.

Some people think this way they are able to give recovering time to the body from the fertility drugs to increase their chances of achieving pregnancy when their uterus returns to the natural state.

In fact, as of now, there is a very little research on this issue and there is no concrete evidence that the method increases the success rate.

Metabolomics – A new technique for embryo selection

Researchers are trying to develop a new procedure of embryo selection, known as Metabolomics.

The procedure may likely be used for identifying viable embryos, which will have the best chance of getting implanted in the uterine lining.

During the Metabolomics procedure a sample of the culture media fluid from the dish wherein an embryo is growing and testing the fluid for levels of some metabolites or molecules.

Researchers are trying to establish which metabolites, and at what levels, may communicate with the most feasible embryos.

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