Embryo transfers are very common in the practice of fertility medicine. Although these procedures are common, that does not mean they are easy to perform or understand. In some cases the best odds of conception and successful pregnancy will require an embryo transfer. In this blog we hope to illuminate the subject of embryo transfer, and help you find the right questions to ask your fertility doctor if you find that this procedure can help you realize your dream of becoming parents.
What is an Embryo Transfer?
Simply put, an embryo transfer is the transfer of an embryo from a controlled laboratory setting into the uterus of a woman who is more than ready to become a mother. This is the final step in a procedure known as In Vitro Fertilization, or IVF.
Discovering an Embryo Transfer is the Preferred Method of Treatment
When a couple realizes they need assistance in becoming pregnant they will be put through a battery of tests. These tests will reveal to the fertility doctor where potential problems may lie. To result to an embryo transfer, less invasive methods such as hormone therapy will have failed, or conditions like, blocked fallopian tubes, male infertility, severe endometriosis, ovarian failure, uterine fibroids, specific genetic disorders, or unexplained fertility will be discovered as the cause of the couple’s inability to conceive. Any disorder or condition that impairs the egg from developing and meeting with a sperm may necessitate the use of IVF with embryo transfer.
The Process of IVF
To perform an embryo transfer, a woman must ready her body for the implantation. This is the process of IVF. First, depending on the woman’s condition and her fertility doctor’s diagnosis, hormones will be taken to begin the process of ovulation. The goal of this portion of the procedure is to stimulate the ovaries to produce and release eggs. The doctor will then retrieve these eggs. In a laboratory setting, he will then fertilize the eggs with the sperm collected from the male partner. There two ways he can do this. He can simply mix the sperm with the embryos in a culture dish – conventional insemination, or inject the sperm directly into the egg- intracytoplasmic insemination. After three to five days the embryos that resulted from the fertilization will be ready for transfer.
Once you’ve made it this far there is only a little left to go. If you are undergoing a conventional embryo transfer, once the embryos have matured, Dr. Chamoun will directly transfer them into your uterus. To do this he will pass a long catheter through the cervix and deposit the embryos into the uterus – which will be theoretically ready for implantation. After this, three to five days of pelvic rest are recommended. In two weeks a pregnancy test will be taken to discover if the embryos have implanted and the procedure was a success.
If there are any embryos left over from an IVF procedure it is recommended that they are cryogenically frozen. These frozen embryos can be thawed and used in a subsequent embryo transfer if the previous embryos do not implant. There is no statistical difference in the use of frozen versus fresh embryos.
Complications of Embryo Transfers
The complications that arise from embryo transfers are generally associated with the influx of hormones a woman will take to stimulate ovulation. These include blood clots and blocked blood vessels. You will be closely monitored during this entire procedure to ensure your safety. The chance of miscarriage is identical to that of unassisted conception. The biggest risk associated with embryo transfer is the result of multiple births. This occurs because multiple embryos are transferred because not everyone will implant. Sometimes multiple embryos will implant causing multiple births.
Embryo transfers are common and complicated fertility procedures. They are the final step in the process known as IVF. If you have had difficulty becoming pregnant after one year of trying, call us at the Viera Fertility Center. We would love to discuss your options and help you understand if IVF and embryo transfer is right for you.