Are you looking into in vitro fertilization to help your chances in conception? There are actually a lot of things to learn about it, and it isn't just about getting good fertility clinics and the cost. You also have to take into account the procedures and tests you'll undergo, like embryo transfer.
This is a major procedure that falls under IVF and needs to be looked into extensively. But what exactly is there to know about it and how will you know if it's right for you? I did the research so read on!
I'll show you all about the IVF and embryo transfer process to help you out.
IVF and Embryo Transfer Process: What You Need to Know
These procedures are pretty broad subjects, so I'll be separating them with sections to make it easier to understand.
What Is An Embryo Transfer?
The embryo transfer is actually the final part in the IVF process. During the in vitro fertilization process, IVF medications are given for fertility, stimulating ovaries to release healthy eggs.
The eggs will then be removed from the woman's ovaries, fertilized in the fertility lab. Once the eggs have fertilized and multiplied, it will then be transferred in the woman's uterus. After a few days or weeks, monitoring will be done to see if it was a success.
However, pregnancy only occurs if the embryo attaches itself to the woman's womb or uterus wall.
When Are Embryo Transfers Needed?
Embryo transfers will always be a part of IVF. Both these procedures are needed if natural fertilization can't happen or there's difficulty in the process. There are various reasons why one goes through embryo transfer, such as:
- Ovulation disorders which result in infrequent ovulation cycles
- Fallopian tube damage which makes it hard for fertilized eggs to reach the womb safely
- Uterine fibroids, or small and benign tumors around the uterus wall
- Premature ovarian failure, or the inability to release eggs or produce a normal amount of estrogen
- Genetic disorders that affect pregnancy rate
- Low-quality sperm production
What Should You Expect From An Embryo Transfer?
Two to three days before your embryo transfer, your doctor choose the best eggs to transfer. There are various processes that help with the selection, usually through invasive procedures though non-invasive ones are currently being tested.
The chosen eggs will culture for about one to two days, and if more embryos develop, the extra ones will then be frozen. Afterwards, the transfer begins, which is similar to getting a pap smear.
The doctor inserts a speculum in the vagina and uses an ultrasound to pass a catheter through your cervix and in your womb. The embryos will then pass through the tube, going in the womb.
It's pain-free and no sedatives are required, usually! It might feel uncomfortable if you have a full bladder, though you can empty it after the short process. You will then go to the doctor after two weeks to see if there was a successful transfer.
Types of Embryo Transfer
There are various types of embryo transfer you can choose from:
- Fresh embryo transfer happens when the best embryos are transferred directly after being cultured for two days
- Frozen embryo transfer uses the frozen embryos which were stored for later use
- Blastocyst embryo transfer occurs by waiting for the healthy, developed embryos to form into blastocysts, though this may have risks in pregnancy later on
- Assisted hatching occurs by weakening the embryo's over layer before transferring it to the uterus
How Many Embryos Will Be Transferred?
The number of embryos transferred all depends on the woman's body and according to the doctor's recommendation. Usually, just one fertilized embryo is transferred, while other doctors transfer two to increase the chances of pregnancy. No more than two fertilized embryos should be used for the transfer.
By transferring a single embryo, it reduces any risk of multiple births. But if the chances of pregnancy are low, doctors might use a technique to transfer three or more developed embryos.
The Success Rates
The success rates of embryo transfer actually depend on how they were transferred. There's no significant difference when using fresh vs frozen embryos, only having a 5% difference between them. Using frozen embryos is still a good choice, typically transferred during the second attempt of IVF.
Besides this, there are other factors that can affect the transfer's success rate, such as:
- Cause of infertility
- Your ethnic background
- Genetic disorders
- The fertility clinic
Any Risks Or Precautions To Take?
Fortunately, there are very low risks during the embryo transfer. The risks are usually related to increased hormonal stimulation that may cause blood clots to block blood vessels.
Some women may experience bleeding, infections, vaginal discharge, and/or complications of anesthesia (if used). Another risk is multiple pregnancies, which may also increase the risk of newborns with disabilities or stillbirth. However, these rates are low.
Wrapping It Up
I know how confusing some terms and procedures can be when it comes to IVF. Fortunately, it becomes more understandable with the proper research and when working with the right fertility clinic.
I hope that this article on the IVF and Embryo transfer process gave you an idea of what to do. So don't wait any longer and begin delving more into IVF to see if it's suitable for you now.
If you have any questions or want to share your own experiences on IVF, then comment below. Your thoughts are much appreciated!