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Creating One Baby at a Time
Fifteen years ago, I sat listening to a lecture about the hazards of multiple pregnancy and how IVF had increased the incidence so drastically in the preceding ten years. It hit me hard and was a depressing thought. I loved helping women conceive. I was practicing the infertility and IVF I had learned ten years earlier at the Jones Institute with Howard and Georgeanna Jones themselves, as well as with Zev Rosenwaks and other masters of the IVF craft.
I had seen first-hand quadruplets created as a result of our IVF efforts. But, that was a necessary side effect of transferring a sufficient number of embryos to offer a patient a reasonable chance for a successful transfer. IVF was very inefficient back then and our pregnancy rate, even in 1995 with transferring three to four embryos, was, at best, 40 percent.
The sobering truth is that multiple pregnancies — even with ‘just’ twins — are sometimes dangerous to the health and well-being of mother and babies, let alone the triplets that were still occurring in 7-10 percent of the pregnancies at the time.
Since then, thanks to dedicated research to fine-tune IVF, much has been learned about both clinical practice and laboratory technique. IVF is no longer experimental. Today, the live birth rate for women under 35 years of age is greater than 60 percent per retrieval.
One of the most important recent developments — single embryo transfer, or SET — is being consistently backed up by study after study as the optimal IVF method for patients with a good prognosis.
Single Embryo Transfer
The safest pregnancy with the greatest chances for an optimal outcome — a healthy baby — is a singleton pregnancy.
In 2007, East Coast Fertility started leading the field of reproductive medicine by establishing our own SET Program. Confidence in our high quality embryology laboratory and an immensely successful embryo cryopreservation program has afforded ECF the ability to limit the number of embryos transferred, essentially eliminating the risk of triplets or more.
We analyzed our success with elective single embryo transfer (eSET) and compared it to our success with elective double embryo (eDET) transfer since the opening of our lab in 2005. Fresh eSET was less likely to result in pregnancy than eDET (39/75=52% vs. 342/561=61%), though this difference was not significant statistically. When frozen embryo transfer pregnancies were added this difference was 64% vs. 68.3%. There were no multiples in the eSET group, but a 27.8% twin rate in the eDET group with two sets of triplets.
Single embryo transfer may also be more affordable. For the cost of an IVF cycle, SET Program patients receive free cryopreservation of their embryos, free storage and free frozen embryo transfers until you have your baby.
Is SET for you?
Each patient’s case is considered individually. Numerous factors impacting conception and pregnancy are taken into account. Such factors include:
Single embryo transfer is appropriate in certain situations where the likelihood of a multiple pregnancy is high. This may include:
Women younger than 35 years
Women who conceived with first IVF cycle
Women with concerns about multiple gestation
Donor egg recipients
Single Embryo Transfer is revolutionizing the practice of reproductive medicine. If you're condering IVF, a healthy, safe, single pregnany may be right for you. It can save you money, while ensuring you a much better chance of a healthy baby.