How Many Embryos Should You Transfer?
on Jan 13, 2014
by Dr. Prabha Sahgal, MD
If you are undergoing IVF therapy, one of the important questions that you will have to answer eventually is how many embryos do you want to transfer. This might sound like a simple question, that requires a simple answer, but it's really not.
If you are undergoing IVF therapy, one of the important questions that you will have to answer eventually is how many embryos do you want to transfer. This might sound like a simple question, that requires a simple answer, but it’s really not. It is something that needs to be considered and thought through ahead of time, and there are many different facets to consider when deciding how many embryos to transfer. Claim Your 20 Free Pregnancy Tests – Click Here
Things have greatly changed over the years in the world of reproductive medicine, and the number of embryos transferred is no different. Say, ten years ago or so, the majority of IVF procedures (2 out of 3!) included the transfer of more than 3 embryos. The reasons for transferring more embryos are easy to understand. IVF is time consuming and expensive. Many couples and some doctors believe that by transferring more embryos, there is a greater chance of a successful pregnancy. Some couples also like the idea of having twins or even multiples, and want to up their chances. But, is transferring that many embryos safe?
A new study was recently conducted and published in the British medical journal “The Lancet”. This study indicates that women should not undergo an IVF procedure where there are more than 2 embryos transferred at one time. This new study says that one or two embryos should be the absolute maximum. The study analyzed more than 124,000 embryo transfers that led to the births of more than 33,000 babies over a period of time between 2003 and 2007. The women in the study were divided into two different groups, women aged 40 and over and women aged 40 and under. The results were very interesting.
The study showed that for women who were over age 40, transferring more than one embryo resulted in a higher rate of live births. However, when the number of embryos was three or more, there was a much greater risks of health complications with both the mother and the baby or babies. This was in part due to the risk of complications of having twins or multiples. These findings led authors to conclude that women who are 40 and older should have two embryos transferred per IVF cycle, while younger women should have only one embryo transferred, and no patients should have more than three embryos transferred at one time.
“We show that even in older women, we should never have more than three embryos transferred,” says Scott Nelson, one of the study authors who is a professor of reproductive and maternal medicine at the University of Glasgow. “It doesn’t improve the chances of a woman having a healthy baby.”
This is definitely something to discuss with your doctor, as well as your partner, if you are undergoing IVF and trying to decide how many embryos to transfer in your case. As we all well know, no two women’s cases are alike,and every woman has different needs. Some women might need to transfer extra embryos at the discretion of her doctor, and other women might not ever need to take that extra risk. Whatever you decide, make sure that you are well informed in order to make the right decision for your case.
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Dr. Prabha Sahgal MD, is board certified in obstetrics and gynecology and subspecialty board certified in reproductive endocrinology and infertility. Dr. Sahgal holds a B.S. degree from MIT in molecular biology and currently serves on the ConceiveEasy board of directors.