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What is the Embryo Transfer Technique(ETT)?

Author Name: Dr. Virul Shrivastava Mentor Name: Dr. Kanika on April 08, 2020

Embryo transfer is a very crucial step in an IVF/ICSI cycle. It is a process in which embryos (1 or 2 in number) are placed in the uterus with the help of a soft catheter with the intent of achieving a healthy pregnancy. IVF/ICSI is a process in which we give hormone injections to a female for 10 days to prepare multiple eggs. Then we retrieve the eggs under anaesthesia- a process called oocyte retrieval/ovum pick up. We then take her husband’s sperms and make embryos in the IVF laboratory. Now these embryos are inserted in the female’s uterus after a certain number of days (3-6) and that is what we call embryo transfer. A smooth embryo transfer is pivotal for Ivf success.

Types of Embryo Transfer

There are two types of embryo transfers:

1. Fresh embryo transfer– Wherein the embryos are transferred 3-6 days after ovum pick up and In Vitro Fertilisation.
2. Frozen embryo transfer– Wherein the embryos, after formation, are frozen and then transferred in any of the subsequent natural cycles after proper endometrial preparation.

Freezing/ Vitrification has totally changed IVF practice.

Many studies have proven that implantation rates(pregnancies per embryo transfer) are much better with frozen embryo transfers in a natural cycle.

This also gives you a chance to freeze your extra embryos which you can use in future.

Day of Embryo Transfer

Embryos can be transferred on Day-3 i.e., 8-cell embryos or on Day-5/6 called Blastocyst transfer. However, in view of better success rates Blastocyst transfer is preferred.

Number of embryos to be transferred:

Usually single or double embryo transfer is done depending on the quality of embryos and couple’s acceptance towards twin pregnancy. Single transfer and double transfer both are safe and give favourable success rates.
It also depends on the number of embryos formed and quality of embryo after the IVF procedure.

Preparation for Embryo Transfer

Embryo transfer is a simple and relatively painless procedure. On the day of transfer, patients are called to the clinic in the morning after having a light breakfast. There is no need to come with overnight fasting unless an embryo transfer under anaesthesia has been planned as is done in some anxious patients.

The embryo transfer is done under ultrasound guidance for which patients are asked to keep their bladder full at the time of transfer.

Employing sterile practices, the clinician is handed over the soft catheter in which embryos are loaded. These embryos are placed in the uterine cavity by the clinician under ultrasound guidance. The patient is discharged from the clinic in a couple of hours post embryo transfer.

Post Embryo Transfer Queries and Advice

Q. Do I really need bed rest after an embryo transfer?
NO. There is no need to take rest after the procedure. To justify this, several studies were performed and states that 24 hours bed rest is unnecessary.
Also, patients can get up immediately after the embryos are transferred.

Q. What sort of diet should be followed after embryo transfer?
You are advised to take a balanced, nutritious diet and drink lots of water. You can have non-vegetarian food as well including eggs as they are a good source of protein.

Q. How and When will we know if the procedure was successful?
Pregnancy can be confirmed after 15 days of embryo transfer by evaluating the level of b-hcg by performing a blood test.

Nowadays the success rates in IVF-ICSI are much higher than they previously were. Therefore you must make the most of modern day advancements that have come up in IVF/ICSI and you won’t be far from achieving parenthood.

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