Embryo Transfer

Embryo Transfer

As soon as the embryos are ready to transfer back into the uterus, Dr. Douglas will consult with both you and your partner concerning how many to transfer and what to do with any embryos that may remain after the transfer.

Transfers routinely occur on either day 3 or day 5 of the cycle. Dr. Douglas and the embryologists at Presbyterian ARTs will carefully monitor the growth and health of the embryos as they progress from retrieval to transfer and decide the best possible time to return them to your uterus.


Day 3 Embryo Transfers


Day 3, 8 cell embryos

Usually recommended when there are not many embryos and it is already obvious on day 3 which are the only ones that have a chance to implant. If the quality of the embryos is lower than expected for the woman’s age then we may also transfer the embryos on day three.

Day 5 Embryo Transfer

Day 5 embryos

Day 5 embryos

For couples with a large number of nicely developing embryos, Dr. Douglas usually prefers to let the eggs grow to day 5. The extra days of growth will allow the embryologist to determine which are the best embryos to transfer back.


Deciding How Many Embryos to Transfer

We determine the recommended number of embryos to transfer based on the female’s age, the cause of infertility, previous pregnancy history, number of attempts, and other factors. Although you and your partner, with Dr. Douglas’ input, will decide on the number of embryos to transfer, we usually defer to the embryo transfer guideline (see table below) established by the Society of Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART). These guidelines were developed to maximize a couple’s chance for pregnancy while minimizing their risk of a multiple’s pregnancy. The risk of a multiple’s pregnancy must be considered carefully in this decision.

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*Favorable prognosis is defined as a patient undergoing her first IVF cycle with good quality, excess embryos available for cryopreservation or a previous successful IVF cycle.

What Happens During the IVF Transfer?

Once the embryos are ready for transfer, Dr. Douglas will use a thin, flexible catheter to transport the embryos from the laboratory into the procedure room. He then insets this catheter through the cervix and into the uterine cavity in a process similar to intrauterine insemination. Ultrasound guidance can be used to help Dr Douglas thread the catheter through the cervix, and up to the top of the uterine cavity where he will slowly push the embryos out onto the endometrial lining. We encourage patients to include their partners during this stage of the process for additional support. The entire procedure takes approximately 15 minutes, and you will experience minimal discomfort during the transfer. Once Dr. Douglas finishes the procedure, the embryologist will return the catheter to the lab to make sure that all embryos have been placed into the uterus.

After an embryo transfer, you will remain lying on your back for approximately one hour. Once you return home, he will have you rest for 24 hours and avoid strenuous activity until the pregnancy test. However you may return to work the next day as long as it is not a “physically demanding” job.