Each journey towards embryo transfer is distinct, encompassing various stages that require planning, injections, appointments, and often a mix of positive and challenging experiences on the infertility journey. The embryo transfer represents the concluding phase of a lengthy process aimed at creating a family. By preparing adequately and understanding what’s ahead, you can reduce worries and improve your chances of success.
What is an embryo transfer?
In an embryo transfer, your fertility doctor delicately implants the resulting embryo into your uterus using ultrasound guidance for precise placement.
Using ultrasound, your reproductive doctor ensures accurate catheter placement, minimizing the chance of catheter contact with your cervix. In the rare event that it does occur, any discomfort is typically mild and manageable.
Embryo transfers, vital in IVF, greatly boost chances of conception for intended parents dealing with male or female infertility, or both.
There are various types of embryo transfer.
Fresh embryo transfers (ETs) involve retrieving the intended mother’s eggs and fertilizing them. After evaluating the embryos for their viability, the fertility doctor selects the most promising ones for implantation. Within 3 to 5 days of egg retrieval, the fertility team transfers selected embryos to the intended mother’s uterus. This step aims to enhance the chances of successful implantation and pregnancy.
A Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET) is a procedure that involves using embryos previously obtained during an IVF process, which were preserved by freezing for future use in case the initial IVF attempt did not succeed.
The team thaws frozen embryos and gently transfers them to the uterus via a catheter. Using previously frozen embryos reduces stress compared to the first IVF cycle.
Once cleared by your fertility specialist, start a new cycle with injections and oral meds every three days for two to three weeks after menstruation. These medications are intended to thicken the lining of your uterus. Depending on your specific situation, your fertility specialist and doctor might recommend additional medication.
Day 3 embryo transfer, also referred to as a Cleavage embryo transfer, involves embryos that are named after the cells within them, which are actively cleaving or dividing. Although the embryo’s size doesn’t increase during this stage, not all embryos can survive until Day 5. For this reason, some fertility doctors opt to transfer embryos back into the woman’s uterus on Day 3 to maximize the chances of successful development and implantation.
Day 5 embryo transfer, also known as a Blastocyst transfer, involves embryos that have developed into a spherical structure consisting of 60 to 120 cells surrounding a fluid-filled cavity. While Blastocysts typically form on day five, it’s possible for this stage to occur slightly later.
Clinicians prefer blastocysts for their higher likelihood of normal genetics, successful implantation, and live birth compared to Day 3 embryos. Delaying transfer to Day 5 helps select embryos with greater potential for successful implantation and a healthy pregnancy.
Single Embryo Transfer involves placing just one healthy embryo, either at the day 3 or day 5 stage, into the uterus.
Multiple Embryo Transfer involves transferring more than one embryo, either at the day 3 or day 5 stage, into the uterus.
What happens during an embryo transfer?
An embryo transfer is generally a straightforward procedure that rarely requires sedation or anesthesia. The medical team gently introduces the embryo or embryos into the uterus through the cervix using a long, slender catheter containing the predetermined number of embryos and a small amount of fluid.
How to get ready for an embryo transfer?
Ensure you adhere to a well-organized schedule for your medications, following your doctor’s instructions diligently.
Inquire with your doctor about the usage of over-the-counter medications and supplements, such as Vitamin D.
Additionally, make sure you stay on track with your fertility medications and hormones as prescribed.
Prepare in advance for arriving at the clinic punctually.
Prepare yourself by stocking up on self-care and entertainment options that don’t involve harmful chemicals.
It is worth considering holistic therapies like acupuncture, yoga, and massages.
Ensure you get sufficient rest before and after the procedure, giving your body the necessary downtime and avoiding strenuous activities.
Be cautious about exposing your abdomen and uterus to extreme temperatures, as this can disrupt your reproductive system and impact the success of the embryo transfer.
Maintain a high-fat, low-carb diet to reduce inflammation throughout your body, gastrointestinal tract, and reproductive system.
Be mindful of chemical products commonly present in nail polish, certain shampoos, cleaning supplies, and various other household items.
Prepare in advance for your transfer procedure by packing a bag and deciding when to leave. Also, remember to arrive with a full bladder, as drinking plenty of water beforehand is essential for the ultrasound-guided transfer.
On the day of the embryo transfer
Make sure to adhere to your prescribed schedule of taking estrogen, progesterone, and any other supportive medications.
Ensure your bladder is adequately filled when you arrive for the procedure. If you haven’t consumed enough water beforehand, there might be a waiting period until your bladder is appropriately filled.
Additionally, you will receive guidance on pre-medication for the procedure.
After the Transfer
Avoid heading straight to bed after your embryo transfer. It is better to relax and maintain an upright position.
Take a leisurely stroll in the park, but avoid any strenuous exercises, heavy lifting, trampolining, or hot baths. Staying active, calm, and dry is beneficial for the embryos.
Furthermore, it’s essential to be cautious not to cough or sneeze during the procedure. If you happen to have a cold on the day of the embryo transfer, inform your doctor.
While sneezing or coughing might not significantly affect implantation chances once the embryos are in, it’s still not advisable when the catheter is inside your uterus.
You can ask for a cough remedy to suppress any splutters and ensure a smoother procedure. Parenting is a gift that transcends all boundaries, and every individual should have the chance to welcome a new family member into their lives. If you have any additional inquiries about the embryo transfer process, the fertility experts at 9M Fertility are ready to assist. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us and begin your journey today.