An individual or couple struggling with infertility may pursue In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) in their journey to becoming parents. This process has helped to bring more than 1 million babies into the world since its inception in 1978.
While IVF has been around for more than 40 years and is one of the leading Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART) available, it may still seem quite new and hard to understand for those going through the process.
The final stage of IVF is embryo transfer, but what does this mean for you as a patient about to embark on this journey?
What to Expect During an Embryo Transfer
An embryo transfer is a quick and painless procedure performed by your reproductive endocrinologist in the office and requires no sedation, but a full bladder is requested. A full bladder during an embryo transfer gives a clear picture of the abdominal sonogram used to help guide the transfer.
Once the patient is confirmed and the procedure is ready, a speculum will be placed into the vagina, and the doctor will clean off the cervix with a special solution. An assistant will then use the ultrasound probe on the abdomen to give the doctor a guide for inserting the catheter.
The doctor will then guide a test catheter into the opening of the cervix to get into the uterine cavity. During this process, you can see what is happening on the ultrasound. Once the doctor gets into the uterine cavity, they will have the embryologist bring in the embryo(s).
The embryo(s) are then loaded into the catheter and guided through the opening in the cervix. Once the catheter is guided to the top of the uterus, the embryo(s) will be released from the catheter into the uterus. After a quick check to make sure the embryo(s) are no longer in the catheter, the patient will relax and empty their bladder before going home.
The entire process, from start to finish, usually takes about 10 to 15 minutes, and then the patient will be able to go home and relax for the remainder of the day.
Fresh VS Frozen Embryo Transfer
Before any transfer, the uterus needs to be prepared so the embryo can implant as it would during a natural menstrual cycle, so there is generally some monitoring before transfer to determine if the thickness and quality of the lining are right.
In cases of fresh transfer, the embryo transfer is performed on day 3 or day 5 post-retrieval. The embryos that are transferred during fresh transfer cycles were just created during the most recent retrieval cycle, and the day of transfer is based on the growth of the embryos during those first few days.
In cases of frozen transfers, the embryos transferred are from a previous cycle that could have been frozen months or even years prior. This type of transfer is quite common and can be recommended in place of a fresh transfer, especially in cases where the doctor is worried about ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome or OHSS or even if the patient’s progesterone levels were elevated during the retrieval cycle.
Extra embryos are also often frozen for use in the future and could be used after a fresh cycle for patients who have had a failed fresh cycle, experienced loss, or are ready for a sibling.
Pursuing IVF at Nova IVF in Mountain View, California
Nova IVF has been the Bay area’s premier fertility clinic since 1987. Under the leadership of renowned reproductive endocrinology and fertility specialists Richard J. Schmidt, MD, FACOG, and Meera Shah, MD, FACOG, the clinic and its cutting-edge In Vitro Fertilization Lab have gained recognition as of the area’s top fertility clinics.
At Nova IVF, the doctors and medical team truly connect with their patients at a level rarely seen in medicine today. The team commits to performing one procedure at a time and starts treatment cycles based on their patient’s ovaries’ hormonal best time rather than the lab’s availability. This focus on individualized care, coupled with a highly experienced team of providers and an IVF lab equipped with state-of-the-art technology, allows the Nova IVF team to continue the exceptional success rate they’ve experienced over time.