Embryo transfer

Jul 18 2011

Embryo transfer is the culmination of various assisted reproduction treatments: in-vitro fertilisation, egg donation, embryo adoption, use of cryopreserved embryos, and so on.

The embryo is transferred from the laboratory to its ultimate place of development, the mother’s uterus.

In many cases it is not very clear what it involves and so causes fear and added stress to the treatment being performed. It is therefore paramount to be properly informed of what is going to take place on the day of embryo transfer.

The procedure itself is simple, almost like a routine gynaecological check-up. It is not painful nor needs anaesthesia. The only necessity is an almost full bladder which helps the visualisation of the ultrasound-guided transfer cannula. There is no need to fast. You will lie back as in any gynaecological examination, we will then place the speculum to see the cervix and clean the flow and medication debris. The biologist then brings the embryo or embryos which we have all decided beforehand to transfer. The doctor very carefully goes through the cervical canal into the heart of the endometrial cavity, where they deposit the drop of culture medium in which the embryo is floating. The process is visualised via a simultaneous abdominal ultrasound. The patient then rests for 20 minutes or for however long the patient wishes. After that, she can continue with her normal daily activities. In essence that is the embryo transfer.

The number of embryos that can be transferred are a maximum of 3, according to Spanish Law. However, each case must be individualised based on age, number of previous children, uterine pathology, embryo quality, and so on.

Embryo transfer should not be confused with embryo implantation, terms often used for the same concept. Embryo implantation is the process by which the embryo is transferred, continues to evolve and lodges in the mother’s uterus.

Dr José Manuel Gómez, Gynaecologist at Instituto Bernabeu.

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