Embryo transfer: how does it work?

Embryo transfer: how does it work?

Considered the very last step of an IVF treatment, embryo transfer happens after the embryos are obtained in the laboratory. This procedure can be stressful for patients, but it can also be a relief because the embryo will finally be placed in the uterus awaiting implantation.

We explain everything you need to know about it below.

Embryo transfer: on what day of development?

During the IVF or IVF with egg donation treatment, the oocytes obtained are fertilized in the laboratory and kept under observation. Every day, the biologists’ job will be to check the progress of this fertilization and embryo development.

Nowadays, there are techniques in the laboratory that allow prolonged embryo culture: this means that the embryo does not run the risk of being damaged by the external environment and can develop in optimal conditions. At Vida Fertility, we make every effort to copy the natural environment of the uterus and allow embryos to better endure in the laboratory.

For this reason, we always recommend a transfer on D5 (day 5 of development), when the embryos have reached the blastocyst stage.

This prolonged culture has several advantages:
  • Embryo transfer on day 5 allows for a better embryo selection, since only the best quality embryos will be able to form a blastocyst.
  • Prolonged culture also allows the male factor to be tested too, since it is from D3 onwards that the quality of the spermatozoa comes into play in embryo development.
  • Blastocyst culture allows for the vitrification of the embryos without the risk of loss in devitrification, since 98% of embryos on D5 resume their development for a subsequent transfer.

However, transfer on D3 (day 3 of development) may sometimes be advisable if the patient has only one developing embryo.

What preparation is required for an embryo transfer?

Embryo transfer is a very simple procedure and does not require any special preparation.

Depending on whether the physician prefers a vaginal or abdominal ultrasound, the patient will be asked to come in with a full bladder.

It is also important to avoid taking anticoagulants (aspirin or heparin) that day and take them again the next day.

A very simple procedure

It is a very simple procedure: it does not require anesthesia, is painless and takes only 15 to 20 minutes.

This is what will happen during the transfer:
  1. The physician will place a speculum and clean the cervix.
  2. He/She will then slide a very fine catheter down to the fundus of the uterus.
  3. The embryo will be prepared in the laboratory and then taken to the back of the uterus through this catheter. There are no obstacles for the embryo.
  4. The biologist will then check to see if the embryo has stayed in the catheter.

What complications can arise during an embryo transfer?

Complications are very rare and may include:
  • Difficulty to reach the fundus of the uterus: this may occur if the cervix presents anomalies, or in case of previous cesarian sections, for example. In this case, the physician can use a softer catheter or a curved catheter to reach the cervix.
  • Pain in the patient: this may occur in cases of vaginismus or very inaccessible cervix. For these patients, we recommend the embryo transfer to be performed under anesthesia.
  • If the biologist finds the embryo in the catheter after the transfer, the operation has to be repeated.

Tips after an embryo transfer

Immediately after the embryo transfer, the patient will be placed in a resting room (30-40 minutes) and then she will be able to get up and resume her normal life.

Recommendations during the 10-day waiting period before the pregnancy test are as follows:
  • Avoid strenuous activities and stress.
  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Drink plenty of water (at least 1L per day)
  • Avoid sexual intercourse.
  • Avoid baths and sudden temperature changes.

The medical staff will give you all the instructions for each case, as well as the treatment to be followed after your transfer.

At Vida Fertility we understand that embryo transfer is a very special moment for our patients: the end of a stage of treatment and the beginning of a new and hopeful one. Our staff will be there to give you all the necessary information and instructions for the day of your embryo transfer.

Request personalized information: contact us.