What is an embryo transfer?
An embryo transfer with our Southern California fertility doctors is the final step of an in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycle. Robert Anderson MD or Don Royster MD will transfer a healthy embryo to the uterus that may become a viable pregnancy. While the procedure is straightforward, it can be a time of anxiety for hopeful parents. Understanding what happens during an embryo transfer can help relieve some of this stress.
How soon can an embryo transfer take place?
Our Southern California fertility doctors and highly skilled embryologists prefer to wait for approximately five days after egg retrieval to perform an embryo transfer. Many times, embryos with genetic abnormalities stop growing and never make it to the blastocyst stage at Day 5. By waiting longer, we select only the healthiest embryos, which increases your chance of having a successful pregnancy. This five-day period mimics the natural pregnancy cycle. At this time, the fertilized embryo would be leaving the Fallopian tube and heading for the uterus.
Our team evaluates the embryos under a microscope to select the best one for transfer. Embryologists look at the cohesiveness of the cells that make up the inner cell mass, which becomes the baby, and the trophectoderm, which becomes the placenta. The embryologists also look at the fluid-filled section of the embryo. The embryos are graded to help the embryologists and our California fertility doctors determine the best embryo to transfer.
The embryos also undergo genetic testing called preimplantation genetic testing (PGT-A) to make sure they have the right number of chromosomes. They can also be screened for certain genetic disorders or specific diseases like cystic fibrosis using a technique called preimplantation genetic testing (PGT-M).
What to expect during an embryo transfer
During the embryo transfer process, our Southern California fertility doctors transfer the embryo to your uterus. This usually isn’t painful, but you may receive a mild sedative. Transvaginal ultrasound is used to guide the tube containing the embryo so that it can be deposited in the uterus. This method is more accurate and has higher success rates than an abdominal ultrasound. Dr. Anderson pioneered this method, which doctors now use all over the world.
After the procedure, you’ll rest and be monitored for four to six hours before going home. Your doctor may prescribe progesterone to help prepare the endometrial lining of the uterus and increase your chance of pregnancy. Then, after about two weeks, you’ll come back to find out if the embryo successfully implanted and a pregnancy has developed.
You may experience some symptoms after the procedure.
- Minor cramps
- Minor bleeding
- Vaginal discharge
Please call us if you aren’t feeling well or if you have any questions or concerns.
What to do after an embryo transfer
The two-week waiting period is sometimes the hardest part for hopeful parents. We encourage rest, especially during the first 24 hours. Try to keep your stress level down and take extra care of yourself. You can go to work and even to the gym for some gentle exercise or take walks. Before you know it, two weeks will go by, and it will be time to come in for your checkup.
Contact us to schedule an appointment with our Southern California fertility doctors.