This is the most important day of our fertility treatment. We have been waiting for this moment since we started our IVF journey.
The embryo transfer is a pretty exciting procedure. The embryologist grades and ranks the embryos based on a special scoring system. This embryo grading tool helps the embryologists and the physicians to determine, which embryo should be transferred and what is the optimal day for the transfer. These decisions can have a vast impact on the success of the IVF cycle.
The number of transferred embryos varies from patient to patient. The final number depends on several factors, which include the age of the patient, the number of available embryos and their quality.
It is usually not recommended to transfer more than two in order to avoid a multiple pregnancy, however, women who are 40 or older may have two and more embryos transferred during one cycle to increase their chances of conceiving. In our case, we had both of our embryos transferred to the uterus.
Some couples are lucky enough to have a lot more healthy available embryos than they need for one transfer. In this case, the remaining embryos can be frozen and stored in a special container where the temperature reaches approximately -180°C. If their IVF cycle fails, they can attempt another cycle with some of their frozen embryos. This way the woman does not have to go through all of the hormonal treatments and the egg retrieval procedure can be skipped altogether.
First, I thought that the embryo transfer would be a very complicated procedure, but it turned out to be the fastest and the least invasive step of the treatment. My wife said it was almost the same as a regular gynaecological examination. Of course, that did not mean much to me since I never had to go through that, but if it was ok for her, it was ok for me.
There was no need for anaesthesia during the transfer because it was not severely painful and only took a few minutes. The doctor “injected” the embryos to the uterus through a thin and soft catheter and it was done. My wife had to lie down after the transfer, but it was only for 15 minutes or so. The only uncomfortable part was that my wife had to have a full bladder during the procedure. Apparently, this affects the position of the uterus and therefore makes it easier to place the embryos into the uterus correctly.
There was just one thing that started to bug me after the transfer. It is not the first time during our treatment when I have come across some important information a little too late. I read about something called hysteroscopy. It is an inspection of the uterus that can be useful in making sure that the uterus is healthy and does not contain any lesions or polyps. It can also indicate the best location for the placement of the embryos. Medical publications mention that hysteroscopy before IVF can increase the chances of successful implantation but it is not proven if it improves the live birth rate. But still, it would be worth looking into it and asking your doctor about it.
With the embryo transfer done, our IVF cycle is now finished. At this point, we just have to wait for two weeks (the dreaded “2 week wait”) before my wife can take a pregnancy test.