How Does Embryo Transfer Work?

Embryo transfer is a medical procedure that is carried out as part of in vitro fertilization (IVF). During the procedure the embryo is transferred to the uterine cavity of a female. Afterwards, under favorable circumstances pregnancy occurs. Embryo transfer together with IVF is a very important and crucial stage of the artificial insemination procedure.

How does embryo transfer work?

Reproductive specialist and embryologist jointly select the day for embryo transfer. The procedure is carried out during the implantation time slot. This is the period of time during which the endometrium (inner layer of the uterus) is ready to receive the embryo.

Transfer at any other time does not make any sense, since in this case the embryo will not be able to attach itself to the wall of the uterus and, therefore pregnancy will not occur.

Studies are conducted to determine the optimal period for the procedure before actual embryo transfer. The studies include ultrasound and blood tests for hormones. Recommendations for women who will be undergoing an embryo transfer procedure are as follows:

  • take a shower in the morning;
  • Have a light breakfast;
  • drink a glass of water 2 hours prior to transfer to moderately fill the bladder;
  • avoid makeup and perfume at the time of procedure;
  • avoid stress and anxiety.

Peculiarities of the procedure include:

  • The stage of embryo development should correspond to the degree of endometrial maturity;
  • the transfer procedure is completely painless and does not require anesthesia;
  • embryo transfer is carried out using a flexible and very thin catheter with the participation of a fertility specialist and embryologist;
  • the whole procedure takes no more than 5-10 minutes;
  • the transfer is carried out under the control of ultrasound device.

Some issues are discussed with the woman before the embryo transfer. The fertility specialist determines together with the patient how many embryos to transfer (one or two). Transferring 2 embryos increases the chance of success, but simultaneously increases the risk of multiple pregnancy.

The use of the European standard in the clinics “Mother and Child” that implies limited number of transferred embryos (not more than 2) allows to minimize the risk of multiple pregnancies.

How to care for yourself after embryo transfer?

Immediately after embryo transfer, a woman is recommended to lie down for 30 minutes. Then she can leave the clinic. The patient is prescribed drugs that will increase the chances of the onset and preservation of pregnancy.

Following the procedure, the attending physician gives to woman recommendations on how to behave after transfer of the embryos. The reproductive embryologist may advise:

  • To avoid overeating;
  • To avoid stresses;
  • To refrain from sex life;
  • To avoid physical exertion;
  • To have bed rest on the first day after the procedure.

Different experts have different opinions regarding the lifestyle a woman should lead during the first days after the embryo transfer. Currently, there is no evidence that some restrictions may affect the onset of pregnancy. However, there is a common opinion among fertility specialists that a woman who underwent an embryo transfer should refrain from having sex for at least two-three weeks following the procedure. Otherwise, a woman can live her regular life as she used to prior to the procedure.

The fact of the pregnancy after the embryo transfer is determined two weeks later by human chorionic gonadotropin hCG blood test. Three weeks after the procedure, the woman undergoes an ultrasound scan. In this case, you can get more reliable results, since the presence of the ovum in the uterus is determined visually, and not by the level of hormones in the blood or urine.

Physical conditions after embryo transfer

Most women have no physical sensations after the embryo transfer. Some patients claim that after 3-5 days they begin to feel:

  • headache;
  • nausea;
  • weakness;
  • taste preference changes;
  • pseudobulbaraffect (PBA).

These are the signs of pregnancy. However, they may appear no sooner than 2-3 weeks after the embryo transfer was carried out. The feelings that a woman notes in the earlier period are most likely caused by auto-suggestion, self-fulfilling prophecy and a strong desire to become pregnant.

If you experience the following warning signs you need to see a doctor:

Increased temperature

After embryo transfer, if pregnancy occurs, slight hyperthermia is possible. But if the body temperature increases significantly, and especially if this symptom is accompanied by intoxication of the body, you should see your doctor about this.

Pain after transfer of embryos

Intense pain in the lower abdomen may indicate ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome. Therefore, this condition also requires a visit to a doctor. In most cases, the patient feels nothing after the transfer. She just comes to see a doctor on the appointed day to confirm or exclude pregnancy.




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