Assisted reproduction technology is a common practice nowadays. There are many procedures through which this can be achieved. Embryo transfer is one of them. This process involves the transfer of embryos into the uterine cavity using a catheter that is inserted through the uterine cervix.
The first embryo transfer experiment was performed on a rabbit in 1890, yet, this technique was not efficient during that period and wasn’t intended to be applied to humans then. In 1977 a baby conceived through in vitro fertilization commonly referred to as IVF was born. The technique involved in the baby’s birth was embryo transfer.
Why is embryo transfer needed?
The growing cases where natural fertilization wasn’t an option or was difficult gave rise to the need for an assisted reproductive method, which then led to the creation of embryo transfer.
There are several reasons for the need for embryo transfer.
As the Fallopian tubes are the passageway for embryos to reach towards the uterus, any damage caused to them may disrupt the fertilized eggs from reaching safely to the womb.
Some genetic disorders may also prevent pregnancy from occurring.
The failure of ovaries due to genetic disorders may result in improper functioning, unbalanced levels of estrogen production, or inability to produce eggs regularly. Due to impaired or low sperm production, poor movement of the sperm, damage to the testes, semen abnormalities, abnormalities in sperm size and shape in men can make it difficult for fertilization of the sperm and egg and lead to failure of natural fertilization.
The process involved in embryo transfer
The process is short and is usually pain-free. It rarely requires any sedatives. Embryo transfer usually takes place in three to five days after egg retrieval.
Firstly a long, thin, flexible tube called a catheter will be inserted into your vagina through the cervix into the uterus, and syringe which has one or more embryos and is suspended in a small amount of fluid which is attached to the end of the catheter.
The doctor places the embryo in the uterus and the embryo will implant itself to the lining of the uterus about six to ten days after the egg retrieval.
After twelve days of the retrieval of the egg, the doctor will test a sample of blood to detect whether the lady is pregnant or not. In case of a positive result, the doctor will refer her to an obstetrician or another pregnancy specialist. If the results are negative, then it is advisable to stop taking progesterone and to consult a doctor.
The chances of giving birth to a baby after using IVF depends on the age of the mother as in cases in which women older than forty-one years are often counseled using donor eggs during IVF to increase the chances of pregnancy. In cases of younger women, there are more chances to conceive and give birth to a healthy baby using your eggs during IVF.
Certain lifestyle factors also decide the success of IVF. When women who are habitual of smoking have fewer eggs retrieved during IVF and may miscarry more often because smoking lowers the woman’s chance of success using IVF by fifty percent, consumption of alcohol, recreational drugs, excessive caffeine, and certain medications can also be harmful and reduce the chances of conceiving.
Types of embryo transfer
Fresh embryo transfer
After the fertilization of eggs, they are cultured for one day, and the best embryos are selected and directly transferred to the woman’s uterus.
Frozen Embryo Transfer
Frozen embryos remain viable well over ten years or more after the initial freeze, and any healthy embryos that were not used in the first transfer can be frozen and stored for future use and can be easily transferred to the uterus. It is a cycle where embryos that came from a prior in vitro fertilization cycle are thawed and transferred into the woman’s uterus.
Blastocyst Embryo Transfer
According to the study in the Indian Journal of Clinical Practice, blastocyst embryo transfer has a higher success rate than standard embryo transfer on day three but recent studies show that the patient may have risks later in pregnancy and is not always recommended by doctors.
According to a study by the International Journal of Reproductive Medicine, there is no statistical difference between using fresh and frozen embryos as fresh embryos had a 23 percent pregnancy rate. In contrast, frozen embryos have an 18 percent pregnancy rate.
It shows that frozen embryos could also be used for additional embryo transfers, whereas fresh embryos could not be used Where the chances for pregnancy are low. The doctors may consider freezing embryos for a second attempt at embryo transfer at a later date.
Precautions to be taken after embryo transfer
After about half an hour’s rest at the medical facility where the embryo transfer is done, the patient can go home and continue their normal daily routine activities like walking, going out, driving, and they can work but should avoid vigorous physical activities like sports and heavy lifting.
Drinking an adequate amount of water is always recommended to maintain sufficient hydration status. Patients after an embryo transfer should avoid immersing themselves in hot water in bathtubs or swimming pools.
It is recommended that the patient’s obstetrician should prescribe the medications taken, and the consumption of any antibiotics should be done after consultation.
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