One of the most common treatment procedures recommended for couples who have struggled to fall pregnant naturally for a while is In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF). This is the process of fertilising your egg with your partners, or a donors sperm, outside of the uterus, and then reintroducing the fertilised embryo back into the uterus in order to grow.
a full fertility investigation and diagnosis has been carried out for you and
your partner, your fertility specialist will discuss with you the best options
for treatment and success for falling pregnant.
of the most common treatment procedures recommended for couples who have
struggled to fall pregnant naturally for a while is In Vitro Fertilisation
This is the process of fertilising your egg with your partners, or a
donors sperm, outside of the uterus, and then reintroducing the fertilised
embryo back into the uterus in order to grow.
final stage of the IVF process is the Embryo transfer!
It is the most important
step in the entire process, as once the egg is fertilised, it has every chance
of growing to term, so long as the transfer is made successfully.
What does the embryo transfer procedure involve?
transfer is not painful, and does not require any sedation or anaesthetic.
is a very similar procedure to having a Pap, or smear, test carried out.
doctor will use a small catheter to load the embryos.
This is then passed
through the cervix (as with a Pap test) and placed further up into the uterine
Your doctor will use an ultrasound at the same time, so they can see
where the catheter is and ensure they are directing it to the best possible
location for the embryos.
your doctor is confident they have the best possible location, they will unload
the embryos from the catheter.
Then, they will carefully remove the catheter
and check under microscope to ensure that all of the embryos have been
transferred into the uterine cavity.
What if there are embryos left in the catheter?
after examining the catheter, your doctor discovers that some embryo cells have
not been transferred properly, they will repeat the procedure to ensure all
fertilised embryos are delivered into the uterine cavity.
Do I need to do anything to prepare for the procedure?
doctor will give you proper guidance and instructions to prepare for the
This typically includes ensuring you have a relatively full bladder,
as this aids the transfer in two ways.
Firstly, it allows for a good visual via
the ultrasound for where your doctor will place the catheter and transfer the
Secondly, it helps to ‘lift up’ the uterus to a better angle which
can help the process, and make the transfer less traumatic for the embryos.
How many embryos are transferred at a time?
doctor will select an appropriate number of fertilised embryos ready for
They will discuss this with in more detail, prior to the procedure
being carried out!
Clinics and different specialists can vary on the number of
embryos they transfer.
More than one, but not more than four, is usually chosen
for the procedure as this increases the chances of one of the eggs ‘sticking’
and being able to grow to full term.
every fertilised egg will ‘stick’ unfortunately, which is why the timing of the
embryo transfer, and the location of where the fertilised eggs are placed is
very crucial to ensure the best possible chance of pregnancy.
What are the success rates of
are a number of factors that will impact on whether an embryo transfer will be
Your doctor will discuss any specific ones that relate to you,
based on their previous investigations and diagnosis for the causes behind your
biggest indicator of a successful embryo transfer is a woman’s age.
Australia reported that, on average, women under 30 years of age are 40.1%
likely to have a successful transfer. This percentage ranges down to 8.5% for
women over the age of 40.
clinics will discuss with you their own particular success rates, including
embryo transfers that carried to full term and resulted in a healthy pregnancy.
Remember: just because an embryo transfers successfully, this does not always
mean it will be healthy enough to carry to full term.
It’s a good idea to
discuss this as a success rate with your doctor, as well as the number of
transfer that are successful.
Why do embryo transfers fail?
is no straightforward answer for why embryo transfers fail.
As mentioned above,
there are a number of factors that impact this, and it is not always known
whether it is down to an unhealthy embryo, or a failure within the uterus.
women will undergo one or more rounds of embryo transfer before securing
What can I do aid the embryo
transfer being successful?
the initial procedure, your doctor will probably recommend that you spend an
hour or so laying down on your back, and to limit any intense physical activity
for the next couple of days to give the embryos the best chance of success.
first few days after your transfer, make sure you get plenty of rest and try
not to worry too much about the outcome.
Stress and anxiety can have a very
negative impact on your emotional and physical health, so try to stay relaxed
and do light activities to take your mind of things.
away from intense physical activity, and sex, until after you have completed a
When can I take a pregnancy test
after embryo transfer?
Your doctor will give you full advice and guidance,
but it is generally recommended that you wait until 9-11 days after the initial
transfer before carrying out a pregnancy test.
That might sound like a long time to wait! But you
need to give the embryo a chance to attach to the lining of the uterus and
Your doctor will again let you know, but many clinics
will not recommend a home urine pregnancy test at this stage, as it might not
pick up on the early hormonal indications of pregnancy.
Following an embryo
transfer, your doctor can carry out a blood test which will be more conclusive
in detecting successful pregnancy hormones.
if I don’t get pregnant?
Unfortunately, there are no 100% guarantees with IVF
and embryo transfer.
Depending on whether this is your first transfer, or
your third, your doctor may want to carry out further tests to try and figure
out if there is something they might have missed that they can help to address
before carrying out further transfers.
Many women do not fall pregnant on their first
transfer, it often takes two of three attempts.
If it was your first transfer, the important thing is
to stay positive and hopeful and seek support from your doctor.
It can be
extremely disappointing to get a negative pregnancy result after all that work,
so make sure you seek professional counselling from a fertility specialist so
you don’t let your thoughts overwhelm you.
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