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What Can I Expect During an Embryo Transfer?

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Updated May 28, 2011

Question: What Can I Expect During an Embryo Transfer?
Answer:

When Does an Embryo Transfer Occur?

An embryo transfer typically occurs on the third or fifth day after the egg retrieval. If you will be transferring frozen embryos, the transfer will take place as scheduled by yourself and the clinic. There is a great deal more flexibility in scheduling a frozen embryo transfer, as it is not as specifically timed as an egg retrieval. You should meet with the doctor or nurse prior to the procedure to discuss the quality of your embryos and how many of those embryos should be placed back into your uterus.

What Actually Happens During an Embryo Transfer?

First, the doctor and embryologist will confirm your name and date of birth to make sure it matches the identifying information of the embryos. The embryo transfer typically takes place under sterile conditions, even though you will not be placed under anesthesia. Some clinics have the patient take a Valium or other smooth muscle relaxant prior to the procedure. While this may calm your nerves, the intent is to relax the smooth muscle of the uterus and make it a better place for the embryos to implant. With the assistance of the embryologist, the embryos are loaded into a special catheter. A speculum is placed into the vagina to allow visualization of the cervix, which will then be cleaned. Under ultrasound guidance, the catheter is placed through the cervix and into the uterus. When the catheter has been placed appropriately, the embryos are gently inserted into the uterus where they will hopefully implant.

How Can I prepare?

You should take any medication that has been prescribed for you exactly as intended. You may be asked to refrain from taking anything that is inserted vaginally the morning of the transfer to avoid interference with the catheter.

Will it Hurt?

It should not hurt, although you may experience some minor discomfort with the insertion of the speculum, or passing of the catheter.

What Should I Do After Having an Embryo Transfer?

You may be asked to remain on strict bedrest for a period of time. You may also be asked to limit activities like aerobics, sex and tub baths. Implantation of the embryo can occur up to 72 hours after the embryo transfer, so it is important to remain as relaxed as possible during that time. Continue taking your medications as prescribed. Unfortunately, there is nothing else you can do at this point to guarantee pregnancy.

Sources:
Speroff, Leon; Glass, Robert; and Kase, Nathan. Clinical Gynecologic Endocrinology and Infertility. 6th Edition. Lippincott Williams and Wilkins. Philadelphia: 1999. p1138-1139.

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