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The Importance of Single Embryo Transfers

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Written in Partnership with New Hope Fertility Center, March 14, 2016

One of the biggest shifts in IVF approaches is the number of embryos transferred during a cycle. In the beginning, multiple embryos were transferred. At that time, the belief was that transferring multiple embryos increased the chance of pregnancy. Modern research alters that thinking, by proving that the number of embryos transferred has no effect on pregnancy rates. Transferring multiple embryos does increase the chance of having a multiple pregnancy, which increases the risk to both mother and child. Knowing the importance of single embryo transfers can help you to have informed conversations with your fertility care team.

Single Embryo Transfer
Single embryo transfers are increasingly becoming the gold standard in fertility care. Because advancements in fertility treatment have improved IVF as a whole, the best way to improve pregnancy rates is to select a healthy embryo. The healthiest embryos are more likely to attach, implant and to result in a health pregnancy.
In order to identify healthy embryos, they are watched throughout their development. Their rate of development is measured as well as the quality of the development. Taking things further, preimplantation genetic diagnosis may be done to identify and remove embryos with chromosomal defects. Chromosomal issues are the leading cause of miscarriage. Implanting health embryos increases the chance of pregnancy and decrease the chance of miscarriage.

Risk of Multiple Transfers
Recent research proves that transferring multiple embryos is not an insurance policy for getting pregnant. Instead, the process significantly increases the chance of having multiple pregnancy. Multiple pregnancies have a number of risk factors including:

  • Going into premature labor
  • Having a child with a low birth weight
  • Developing gestational diabetes
  • Developing preeclampsia

In order to protect the health of both mother and child, it is ideal to transfer a single embryo at a time. Any healthy, surplus embryos may be frozen and then used during a future cycle.


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