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Egg transfer

Egg transfer, also known as embryo transfer, is a very simple procedure from a medical perspective. For most couples trying to have children, however, it is a very special moment during their medical fertility treatment, as this is when the doctor inserts the embryos in the woman’s uterus. It is when the pregnancy can begin.

When does an embryo transfer take place?

After the eggs are removed from the woman’s ovary (follicular aspiration), they are immediately fertilised in the laboratory by means of in vitro fertilisation (IVF) or intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). They are then put in an incubator and begin to divide. The various stages of development include:

• the pronuclear stage on the first day

• the two to four-cell stage on the second day

• the eight-cell stage on the third day

• the morula stage on the fourth day and

• the blastocyst stage on the fifth day

We prefer waiting with the retransfer until the blastocyst stage, - on the fifth day.

What exactly happens during an embryo transfer?

An embryo transfer takes only a few minutes. It is a routine procedure and can be performed without anaesthesia. In consultation with the parents-to-be, the physician will insert the embryo or embryos into the woman’s uterus in accordance with the legal regulations. To do this, the doctor will use a soft plastic catheter. At this point, the embryos are barely visible to the human eye and are in a tiny droplet of medium – this tiny droplet is inserted completely painlessly into the uterine cavity.

Once the embryos are in the uterus, they can implant in the lining of the uterus where they will continue to develop. The patient can go home immediately after the surgery. 

Risks and chances of embryo transfer

The process of embryo transfer entails virtually no risks.

If a pregnancy occurs after an embryo transfer, the pregnancy hormone hCG formed by the pregnancy can lead to hyperstimulation syndrome. This can cause the ovaries to enlarge and can result in water retention in the stomach and chest area. In the worst case, hospitalisation may be necessary. In any case, an individual consultation and explanation will be provided by the treating physician, taking into account your personal circumstances and any concerns you may have.

Can excess embryos be cryopreserved?

If the pregnancy hormone level does not rise following an embryo transfer (negative pregnancy test), it is, however, beneficial for the patient to be able to fall back on cryopreserved (pre-)embryos so that she doesn’t have to repeat stimulation treatment and follicular aspiration. There may be individual cases in which an embryo transfer cannot be done for certain reasons. In this case, the excess embryos can be cryopreserved for a later attempt.

Blastocyst transfer

A blastocyst transfer is an embryo transfer which involves transferring one or more embryos that are at a very advanced stage of development, the so-called blastocyst stage. This is usually done on the fifth day after follicular aspiration.

The doctor usually inserts one embryo in the woman’s uterus two to three days after egg retrieval. This process is referred to as embryo transfer.

The embryos can also develop in an incubator up to the fifth day, i.e. the blastocyst stage, thanks to improved cell culture media (blastocyst culture). If the doctor transfers such developed embryo into the woman’s uterus, this is referred to as blastocyst transfer.

What are the advantages of blastocyst transfer?

It is possible to identify embryos with development potential

Only 20 to 30 percent of the fertilised eggs develop into blastocysts at all. If an embryo reaches this stage, there is a higher chance of implantation.

The moment of blastocyst transfer is ideal

Just like with a blastocyst transfer, in a natural pregnancy, it takes around five days after fertilisation for the embryo to reach the uterine cavity, where it then implants. It is assumed that the lining of the uterus is particularly receptive on this day.

What are the success rates of blastocyst transfer?

The chances of getting pregnant after blastocyst transfer are very high. Compared to embryo transfer at an early development stage (day 2 or 3) the odds are increased by around 7% (Source DIR Jahrbuch – German IVF-Registry Annual 2014). In women up to the age of 30, the chance of success is between 45 and 50 percent, and for women aged 30-39 it is between 35 and 40 percent. However,  blastocyst culture does not provide the same advantages for all women.

Those with a low egg count and quality may indeed benefit from a day-3 transfer, in which the embryos are inserted in the mother’s uterus at an earlier stage. It therefore goes without saying that our reproductive medicine specialists will work together with you to determine the best transfer method for you as part of a ‘personalised, individual medical approach’, thus striving for the best possible chance of success for you.

What should be noted after the egg transfer?

There are no specific behaviour guidelines after an embryo or blastocyst transfer. It is best for the patient to return her normal everyday life. In the past, women were prescribed rest and several hours or even days of bed rest after an embryo transfer. However, according to more recent findings, this does not have a beneficial effect on the pregnancy rate and in worst cases can even be counterproductive, as long periods of immobilisation (bed rest) can increase the risk of thrombosis. You should, however, avoid nicotine, alcohol and other known unhealthy stimulants, of course. It is also advisable to pursue a healthy lifestyle.

Whether or not the embryo transfer is successful depends mainly on whether the transferred embryo has a suitable potential for further development. Once the embryo transfer has been performed, there is little the couple can do to influence the success of the attempt. Two weeks after the transfer, you will be able to find out whether the implantation of the embryo was successful by taking a pregnancy test.

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VivaNeo Stork København

☎ +45 70 60 60 90
copenhagen[at]vivaneo.dk

VivaNeo Ciconia Aarhus
☎ +45 86 27 76 26
aarhus[at]vivaneo.dk

Aalborg
☎ +45 98 14 45 55
faurskov[at]fertilitet-ultralyd.dk

Holbæk
☎ +45 59 44 13 01

Skive
☎ +45 97 51 04 00
mail[at]dr-rolighed.dk



We look forward to hearing from you!